Stafford shops closing - Turning into a ghost town?

Goldstyle Limousines

Active Member
With all the shops standing empty and now more closing down we are turning into a ghost town at this rate.
Why is nothing being done to entice new shops to open up, if rents are to high then why don't they reduce them for a while. Surely better than having all these shops standing empty for so long!

AA Silencers

Well-Known Forumite
Stafford does seem to be suffering a slump at the moment. It seems to me more shops are opening up on the outskirts or away from the high street. I can only assume it's the cost of the rent. Like Goldstyle says, surely smaller rents are better than empty shops. If there's anything positive to come from it, it might help smaller shopping precincts like the one near Greyfriars/Holmcroft or area's like Sandon regenerate though


Well-Known Forumite
Ghost Town might be a little hysterical, yes there have been places closing recently which is to be regretted but Stafford is really no different to most similarly sized towns in the UK, and if you compare shop vacancy rates in Stafford with nearby towns then we are fairing somewhat better – have you visited Dudley recently?

Perhaps some of the shops closing should be grasped as an opportunity. We all know that more people are shopping on the internet, shopping out of town or just not shopping at all –we now have too many shops. This is being made worse by the likes of the County Council building more units as part of their new offices (which of course as predicted lie empty)
The town needs to reflect reality if it is to survive and prosper. Rents are astronomic and it is quite clear that we will be stuck with vacant units ad infinitum unless action is taken. Start by relocating businesses (the very few that are actually left) from the Princess Row area and demolish from Cash Converters right along to the old Walmsley Furniture shop. This area could be better used as open space or as town centre accommodation – it has been shown for example in the pleasant looking development alongside “The Yard” that if is done sensitively town centre accommodation can work. It also brings more people right into the heart of town.

Stafford like everywhere else has to adapt or die. This impasse where we have empty units and huge shop rents that leads to more empty units and more degradation is a self fulfilling prophecy. Town Centres in 2012 have to offer something different and that includes a mix of High Street Chains, local shops, green space, and accommodation – i.e. they have to be places where people actually want to visit, work and do business.


wanna see my snake?
Private landlords hold most of the rental properties, so its up to them if they let them lie vacant or they drop the rents. AFAIK the council still offers a year rates free for small businesses starting up?

When somewhere the size of the P&A is 80k a year on rent alone though, nobody will be taking it up in this climate :(

My Name is URL

Well-Known Forumite
The fact of the matter is, most commercial property is owned by pension funds and their administrators... they buy the property purely for capital increases over the long term, so don't really give a flying one if its occupied short term...

Crazy but IMHO true.


Stafford PC & laptop repair specialist
It really is ridiculous. I made a short term rent offer MANY years ago on the tiny unit to the immediate right of Home Bargains. I offered £50 per week on the condition of being able to vacate within 7 days notice if they found another tennant - its been empty ever since Home Bargains has been there!
I understand that it's down to the property owners to decide, but surely the council have some powers to help get these properties back in use?


Well-Known Forumite
It really is ridiculous. I made a short term rent offer MANY years ago on the tiny unit to the immediate right of Home Bargains. I offered £50 per week on the condition of being able to vacate within 7 days notice if they found another tennant - its been empty ever since Home Bargains has been there!
I understand that it's down to the property owners to decide, but surely the council have some powers to help get these properties back in use?

There is a cost associated with dealing with tenants, it's most likely the case that the profit (or even loss) from letting out a building isn't worth it. £50 per week is a meaningless amount, they may as well give it away for free if that's the case.


Stafford PC & laptop repair specialist
Hadn't thought about their associated fees, but surely there would be SOME profit? Even if it was only £20 per week, that's £1000 per year they don't have for it now.
I suppose to some of these huge commercial site operators that it wouldn't be worth the paperwork for a grand a year - but it's still a massive shame for the town and indeed most towns. Empty shops going to waste where there are small traders who need the opportunity to get in and off the ground that could then possibly afford the regular rents once business has built up.

Councils see this, hence the free or reduced rates for the first year because they know it's in the interest of the high street. It's just a shame the property owners can't see it this way too.


wanna see my snake?
Shame they wont lower the market costs then, people seem to be leaving there all the time and they all mention rent rises. Not that they charge an awful lot, but they have greatly reduced opening hours compared to an actual shop.


Stafford PC & laptop repair specialist
The last time I looked into one of those it was £90 a week rent - which for what it is I wouldn't necessarily call cheap. I know 2 stall holders in there who I dont think have made a profit in years and only keep doing it for their sanity... more fool them!


Well-Known Forumite
Sorry to hijack this thread, can't find the "another one gone" thread. Found it now... moved post, oops!

Andy Straw

A few posts under my belt
There's little or no hope of my small business ever being able to afford a unit in town. Not unless our customers want to pay three times as much!


Well-Known Forumite
This is something I was going to talk about in depth as this kind of thing somewhat falls under the many aspects of my job, which in Layman's terms can be best described as a retail consultant.

I wanted to discuss this as there has been many a post over the last few months with shops closing in Stafford Town Centre and many people seemingly asking the question " what is wrong with Stafford" and a few postees pointing out it isn't happening anywhere else. I found these comments very odd indeed especially with the current climate and even though Stafford has taken a bit of a hit since the turn of the year it is still very much holding it's head above water (with better to come) compared to nationally and even more so locally, especially when you consider Wolverhampton (mid 20% vacancy) and Stoke who have the highest vacancy rates in the country.

It is even worth bearing in mind where businesses such as Farmfood and Gamestation were out-gunning their counterparts in other towns and cities locally ,especially Gamestation. But in these times of cost cutting the easiest avenue to take is not renew the shop lease which is easy to do these days as landlords are increasing their rents to such an extent it is crazy, certainly the case in Stafford and why we almost lost Burtons/ Dorothy Perkins.

But in away the Express and Star has beaten me to it, so the below source is the Stafford Express and Star site release today and makes for good reading if you are interested in local matters:

Read more:

Up to a third of shops in a Stafford town centre street are vacant, the Express & Star can reveal today.
Eight of 24 shops in Princes Street in the town centre are empty, although the main shopping street, Greengate Street, has four units unoccupied. There are also a further three empty units in the Guildhall Shopping Centre, one in Crabbery Street, two in Eastgate Street and one more in Salter Street.
Council chiefs say the overall vacancy rate of eight per cent for Stafford compares well with the national picture which has a national vacancy rate of 14.3 per cent.
Traders in Princes Street say they are doing well despite the high vacancy rate there but would like to see greater footfall in the street, as well as a replacement for Farmfoods which recently closed.
Figures show there are 319 shop units across Stafford town centre.
Jonathan Andrew, president of the Stafford Chamber of Commerce, said he believed the issue of empty units in areas like Princes Street was down to the size of them.
“I do think Stafford is doing quite well compared to empty shops nationally,” he said.
“The difficulty we have is there are the wrong kind of retail units available for rent.
“A number of retailers want to move to Stafford but they are being held back as the units are too small.”
Richard Caddy, spokesman for Stafford Borough Council, said: “Shop vacancy rates in Stafford have remained stable at between seven and eight per cent for the last two years, which is well below the national average.
“Stafford has thriving shopping, with a uniquely 50:50 split between independent and national outlets.
“We have a constant programme of town centre events designed to bring in trade and a town centre partnership with over 100 members. We also have two major retail developments due to get under way in the town centre.”

To admin: hope this doesn't break any rules, apologies if so.

Admin Edit: Threads merged. No rules broken at all! :)

Miss Red

Well-Known Forumite
Too many empty shops yes.....a market thats only half full! Of the shops that are in stafford town, I really dont know how they survive, theres only so many mobile phones one can have and surely people dont purchase from clothing shops every week! Theres no variety and if you go down on saturday, try counting how many people are carrying bags!
I brought a freind over from Birmingham, they were shocked and asked where do we shop!
Says it all really.


Well-Known Forumite
See, I've had it the other way around, family that visited from Pwllheli the other week thought our selection of shops was wonderful and we were really lucky -I think it depends on your original starting point.


Well-Known Forumite
Hello Miss Red,

you were in fact one of the postees I was referring to. What says it all really is the fact that, well the fact speaks for themselves Stafford has plenty of shops in comparison to national and local trends and has been bucking them some time now and up until January the only shops on the main street from one end of the town to the other was Chicago, gdh, the old paper house, shop opposite Bella Italia and the old max spielman shop, quite miraculous I can assure you and I should know with work I have recently covered for local councils and businesses in Wolverhampton, Buxton, Burton, Stoke, Crewe, Dudley just to name a couple whose vacancy rates and town income is fairing worse than Stafford.

Now if people want to talk about big high st names etc, then Stafford do lack them but this is mostly because of the type of premises in town which we all know is mostly small graded lised buildings with high rents, just for example GAP have been looking at Stafford for sometime but cannot find a suitable sized premises. Whether this is pushed forward now they have a distrubution at Redhill it may, but the word is they will wait for the new developments in town.

Stafford is doing something right, I say that as I am dealing in facts not opinion here, not only is Stafford bucking the trend (which will only get better on forecats) but town centre footfall and money is up on this time last year, only just but in the current climate there are not many towns and cities that can say that currently and another tipping of the hat to what Stafford have accomplished there.

But Miss Red, empty shops are the normal right up and down the country, unfortunately for the UK as a whole it will get a lot worse with a couple more big high street names feeling the pinch right now. You don't have to buy from shops in town, but it helps encourage businesses but you should always appreciate the things a home town or your residence does well, otherwise why live there :britain: