Shops closing doors after trade falls off

Two Stourbridge shops are set to close amid warnings that they will not be the last victims of the “turmoil” of building work in the town and the recession.

DUDLEY PIC  The Harvest Moon gift shop, which is due to close on September 28.

The Harvest Moon gift shop in Victoria Passage, which has been open for more than 15 years but will trade for the last time on September 28. Meanwhile Polka Dot Paradise, the ladies’ clothes shop on the corner of Market Street and High Street is closing on September 29, with the loss of two jobs, although it will continue to trade on the internet.

Both blame a dive in takings partly on the £50 million redevelopment of the Crown Centre, which includes the demolition of the Bell Street multi storey car park to pave the way for a new Tesco’s.

Chris Armfield, whose fiancee runs Harvest Moon, said: “The demise of Stourbridge’s small independent retailers consists of many factors - first a double recession followed by the turmoil of several developments in the town.

“These are the bus station’s relocation and re-build, the Stourbridge College of Art being moved to Merry Hill, demolition of the multi storey car park and Crown Centre.

“This has had a huge effect on footfall in the town and, with high rents on private properties, logic predicts more shops will close.”

Laura Davies, owner of Polka Dot Paradise, has decided to refocus the business upon sales on the internet.

She said: “It’s very sad - everybody trading in the town is suffering.

“The car park went, trade has dropped, there’s dust and most of the ring road is messed up.

Dudley Councillor Shaukat Ali, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “Inevitably, during any large scale regeneration works, there will be some disruption, and while we try to keep this to a minimum, we ask people to bear with us because the end results will be beneficial to everyone.”