SHOPPERS are in despair after a major high street shoe chain with more than 25 branches is set to close a store.

It will become the latest shop to bite the dust in a fresh wave of closures amid the high street’s retail apocalypse.

Popular shoe chain Ecco will close its Winchester branch on July 19

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Popular shoe chain Ecco will close its Winchester branch on July 19Credit: Alamy

Popular shoe chain Ecco is closing its branch in Winchester High Street permanently on July 19 after the store’s lease ended.

A spokesperson told Hampshire Chronicle that the company decided not to renew thr lease considering “local market conditions.

They added: “In ECCO, we continuously assess our brand presence across the world, including our shops in the UK.

“With this comes a steady flow of shop openings and closures to match local market conditions.”

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The shoe store is now clearing out all its stocks, and most items are being sold with a 20 per cent discount.

The branch manager said: “We’ve come to the end of our lease, and sadly the company decided to close us.

“I would like to thank everyone for the support they have given us throughout the years. We will continue to support them in the months until we close, directing them to where our closest stores are and where they can find our products online.

“We will be here until the end if they want to say hi.”

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Disappointed locals flocked to social media channels to express their frustration.

Blaming the local council, one shopper said: “When the Council jacks up parking charges by up to 700% it shouldn’t come as a surprise when the trading environment is adversely impacted.”

It is the latest shop to close its doors in Winchester after the CGC Emporium in The Brooks Centre closed its doors at the end of March and Patisserie Valerie shut down in January.

BRITAN’S RETAIL APOCALYPSE

Brit retailers have been feeling the squeeze since the pandemic, while shoppers are cutting back on spending due to the soaring cost of living crisis.

High energy costs and a move to shopping online after the pandemic are also taking a toll, and many high street shops have struggled to keep going.

The high street has seen a whole raft of closures over the past year, and more are coming.

The number of jobs lost in British retail dropped last year, but 120,000 people still lost their employment, figures have suggested.

Figures from the Centre for Retail Research revealed that 10,494 shops closed for the last time during 2023, and 119,405 jobs were lost in the sector.

It was fewer shops than had been lost for several years, and a reduction from 151,641 jobs lost in 2022.

The centre’s director, Professor Joshua Bamfield, said the improvement is “less bad” than good.

Although there were some big-name losses from the high street, including Wilko, many large companies had already gone bust before 2022, the centre said, such as Topshop owner Arcadia, Jessops and Debenhams.

Retailers closing stores in 2024

RETAILERS have been feeling the squeeze since the pandemic, while shoppers are cutting back on spending due to the soaring cost of living crisis.

High energy costs and a move to shopping online are also taking a toll, and many high street shops have struggled to keep going.

Here’s a list of all the big-name brands closing stores this year:

  • Argos – The brand announced plans to close 100 standalone UK branches last year as it looks to move away from the high street and focus on expanding its presence in supermarkets.
  • B&Q – The chain has over 300 shops across the UK, so chances are you have one near you, but some stores have closed in recent months.
  • Boots – The health and beauty chain announced that it would be closing 300 stores last July. Closures are ongoing and this will see the retailer’s estate reduced from 2,200 to 1,900 shops.
  • Clintons – Clintons mulled plans to close 38 shops in a bid to avoid insolvency late last year. We’ve listed the stores affected.
  • Costa Coffee – The caffeine giant has around 2,000 sites nationwide, so chances are you’ll have one near you. The chain has shut the doors to dozens of its sites recently. We’ve revealed which stores are due to close this year.
  • Iceland – The supermarket has more than 900 stores but closed nearly two dozen sites in 2023, and more selected shops are due to shut.
  • Lidl – The supermarket, which has 950 stores, is changing up shop locations, which has meant that some stores have to close. But the retailer is also looking to open 12 new supermarkets.
  • M&S – M&S, which runs 405 stores across the country, has been closing a string of branches across the country in a blow for shoppers. It’s not all bad news, though, because the chain also has big plans to open dozens of new shops as well.
  • Trespass – The firm announced in July last year that it was closing six branches, but more are on the way.
  • WHSmith – The retail giant, which runs over 1,100 stores, has shuttered eight stores since March 2023, but more are coming.

“The cost-of-living crisis, inflation and increases in interest rates have led many consumers to tighten their belts, reducing retail spend,” Prof Bamfield said.

“Retailers themselves have suffered increasing energy and occupancy costs, staff shortages and falling demand that have made rebuilding profits after extensive store closures during the pandemic exceptionally difficult.”

Alongside Wilko, which employed around 12,000 people when it collapsed, 2023’s biggest failures included Paperchase, Cath Kidston, Planet Organic and Tile Giant.

The Centre for Retail Research said most stores were closed because companies were trying to reorganise and cut costs rather than the business failing.

However, experts have warned there will likely be more failures this year as consumers keep their belts tight and borrowing costs soar for businesses.

The Body Shop and Ted Baker are the biggest names to have already collapsed into administration this year.

IT’S NOT ALL BAD NEWS

Lidl is set to open hundreds of new stores across the UK.

Aldi has announced that it will open 35 new UK stores.

The openings form part of Aldi‘s long-term target of 1,500 stores in the UK.

The supermarket is set to invest £550million in expanding its UK footprint this year alone.

Aldi said that each new store opening will create around 40 new jobs on average.

Asda has been opening hundreds of convenience stores in recent months as it looks to rival major players Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

B&M plans to open “not less than” 45 brand new stores across the UK in each of the next two consecutive years.

The parent company of BonmarchéEdinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) and Peacocks, Purepay Retail Limited, has said it wants to open 100 new high street stores over the next 18 months.

It has yet to give the exact locations where it will open the 100 stores or when they will open.

One of the UK’s favourite bakery chains, Greggs, has exclusively revealed to The Sun plans to open more outlet branches by the end of 2025.

Home Bargains, which was running just under 600 branches as of last June, has said it wants to “eventually have between 800 and 1,000 retail outlets open”.

The major discounter has stopped short of saying when it wants to reach the 1,000 store target, however.

Primark is also opening new branches and investing and renovating more than a dozen of its existing shops.

Screwfix is set to open 40 new stores nationwide as its owner, Kingfisher, seeks to expand the DIY brand’s national presence.

The brand opened two new stores in March, and a further three new shops will open this month.

READ MORE SUN STORIES

Tesco has revealed plans to open 70 more stores across the UK over the next year as part of major expansion plans.

WHSmith has turned its focus to the travel side of its business, with plans to open new sites in airports, railway stations and hospitals.

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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