BUSINESSES in Basingstoke have spoken out about the 'death of the high street' and have urged shoppers to show their support for local firms. 

According to the Office of National Statistics, between 2015 and 2018 high street retail employment fell more than three-quarters.

The British Retail Consortium said that the start of 2022 saw the footfall on high streets decline by 24.2 per cent in January, 1.1 percentage points worse than December 2021’s rates and below the three month average decline of 22.2 per cent.

As recent as June 2022, there has been a continued depression of retail sales for the third month in a row.

Small business say they are on the brink - and have called for more support as they combat the ‘death of the high street’ in a world with online shopping and the cost of living crisis.

Sandra O’Reilly, from Basingstoke Service Centre in Winchester Street, said that online retail is damaging her business. 

She said: "Noone is coming up [to the top of town] shopping. Everyone has gone online as opposed to buying from us, it has effected us quite a lot.

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"We are not getting good business at all. We will have customers come in here to ask a price for an item they can get online, then look on their phones while they are here and then saying then can get it cheaper on Amazon and then walk back out."

The business has been there for 40 years but has recently felt they have been losing business due to the accessibility of online retailers. 

Lindsay from Nicola Florist on Church Street said she felt that a loss of a sense of community at the top of town has impacted the atmosphere.

She said: "The market used to be so much better, we used to have a stall up there. people used to come to this end of town just to come to the market years ago."

She said that even events like the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee didn't encourage the community to come together.

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She said: "When we had the Jubilee, it didn’t really seem that anything went on. There were no decorations and no competition for the best window for the shops." 

Like other independent business owners, the rise of the cost of living has most recently seen her florist see a decline in customers. 

"People are not going to come out and spend £40 to £50 on a bunch of flowers," she said. 

Nicola Florist has been in business for 45 years and has seen the decline of the high street happen over the years, especially with the large Festival Place shopping centre opening up in 2002.

David Langley from Church Street Models on Church Street talks about how both local and national politics are effecting businesses, such as the cost of living crisis and the lack of support. 

He said: “All high streets are struggling until the business rates are sorted out… this country is a mess.”

He also felt that the current state of local politics has not helped the independent businesses in Basingstoke. 

Dan Flewitt from The Gaming Den on London Street said that rents and business rates are too high but goes on to say this is not limited to the high street, as Festival Place also has vacant spaces too.

Like Church Street Models, he feels like a “combination of rates being too high and business rates being too high is discouraging people setting up at this end of town.”

The Gaming Den has been at the top of town for three years and Dan feels that he has a relatively good connection with other local business owners around him, yet not much of a relationship with local council.  

He said: “Online shopping has always been a problem, however, we like to think we have a personal touch and people come here to be able to physically look at everything and get expert advice.”

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