What traders had to say on Diss high street issues
Diss will end up as a ghost town unless shoppers get behind town centre shops, traders have cautioned.
The warning comes after newsagent McColl’s announced its decision to not renew the lease on Mere Street.
A McColl’s Retail Group spokesperson said: “Having explored all options, regretfully we have taken the difficult decision not to renew the lease at the McColl’s store on Mere Street.
“We are saddened to no longer be operating the store in the future and our priority is to support all affected colleagues.”
Many traders, some of whom say footfall has been decreasing, greeted the news with shock and dismay.
Manager of Beactive Mobility Rhoda Knapp said: “It is definitely worrying for everybody else remaining but I do think more needs to be done to encourage people into the town centre.”
Diss has not followed the times - Manager of Diss Publishing, Birgitte Mager
She added: “If things continue like this, Diss will be a ghost town.”
The newsagent will be one of a number of businesses that have shut up shop in town in recent months.
Sue Kiddie, owner of Tatters Boutique, blames it on the change in shopping habits.
Speaking to the Diss Express, she said: “People have stopped shopping in Diss and I don’t know why. What will support traders is more customers. Everyone is trying to do their very best and for some reason Diss has decided they don’t want to shop.”
Manager of Diss Publishing, Birgitte Mager believes there are other reasons why shops in town go out of business.
“Is it a surprise? It is a tragedy,” said Mrs Mager.
“But I do not believe that it is a sign of the fact that people’s buying habits are changing.”
If things continue like this, Diss will be a ghost town - Manager of Beactive Mobility, Rhoda Knapp
Mrs Mager, who has been the manager of Diss Publishing for the past three years, believes the government is no longer investing in high streets.
“Diss has not followed the times,” she said.
“We have made it more difficult for the customer to come in here, we still haven’t changed the flow of traffic, we haven’t actually done anything to make it nicer and better for people to come here.
“They are trying, but it’s too slow.”
Traders believe, that in order to reverse the decline, the town centre needs to be improved along with changes in parking charges and lower rents.
Mrs Knapp said: “The focus seems to be on the Heritage Triangle and trying to concentrate on getting people there while the main high street is dying.”
She added: “The town looks tired and dirty sometimes. The plants that have been put out are definitely an improvement but the high street is in need of help.”
The falling footfall has had a significant impact on traders like Mrs Kiddie, who noted a decrease in sales by more than 50 per cent last month.
She said: “The footfall has collapsed and people are complaining about the town centre.
“They can spend all their time complaining but if they don’t do anything, there will be nothing left to complain about.”
McColl’s has been unable to confirm an official closing date for the branch.
Previously known as Paper Chain, the shop was taken over by the convenience shop and newsagent operator on August 23, 2004.
A McColl’s spokesman confirmed that the store in Church Street, Eye, is not affected.