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Ghost town fears for High Street

By Rod Edgar
Dumfries and West
Ghost town fears for High Street

A ‘GHOST town’ warning has been issued for Dumfries in time for Halloween - after figures show the scale of shop closures across Scotland.

An average of one store closed every day on High Streets across the country in the first half of the year, according to figures from Local Data Company (LDC).
But Rab Smith, of Dumfries Town Centre Retailers Association, said: “I think we’re worse than the national figures, to be honest.
“It’s the town as a whole – there’s the High Street, English Street, Queensberry Streety, Whitesands, the Vennel, all the rest of it.
“And the High Street’s pretty bad, with 16 to 18 empty shops, but the rest of the town’s really, really dead.”
He added: “It’s highly up in the category of ‘ghost town’.”
Rab says 18 businesses in the town have closed within the past four months.
But he said: “On the other side, eight or nine have opened up – but the worry is how long will they last?”
Pointing to the loss of a hairdressers in Church Crescent and Border Office supplies, he added: “The real worry is when the long-term ones start disappearing.”
Rab notes retailers are awaiting the setting of new business rates.
And he hopes the recent purchase of the Southergate shopping area at the bottom of the High Street works out.
However, he says the ‘very hard’ challenge will now be in the company’s aim to attract investment.
Rab says retail spend for Dumfries as a whole is ‘quite good’, but that about 65 per cent of that is spent out of town.
He predicts improved trade for farm shop Kilnford when the new hospital relocates to Garroch Loaning next year, and fears the creation of other retail units in that area.
And he also points to the arrival of a new Aldi store at Cuckoo Bridge.
Offering ideas to improve the town centre, Rab argues doing away with pedestrianisation and introducing a multi-storey car park – with free ‘validated’ parking for shoppers.
He said: “We need to get more people in; we need to make it easier to shop.”



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