TWO more Skegness stores have been threatened with closure prompting calls for drastic action to save the town’s retail economy.
The Peacock Group announced its intention to appoint an administrator on Monday jeopardising the future of Peacocks and Bonmarche on Lumley Road.
A statement from the group said ‘discussions with other potential investors are ongoing’ and Peacocks, Skegness, which employs 19 staff, said it was ‘business as usual’ preserving hope that the stores may remain open, despite the uncertainty.
The closure threat follows a string of high street casualties to hit Skegness in rapid succession. La Senza, Jonathan James, the Publishers Book Clearance store and The Co-operative Travel have all closed while uncertainty still looms over the future of Arcadia stores - Burtons, Evans and Dorothy Perkins.
The continuing demise of Lumley Road has prompted calls for radical action from business leaders and political figures in the town.
Chairman of Skegness and District Chamber of Commerce Glenis Brown said: “I’m still convinced that as a country and as a town we are very resilient and we always work best when our backs are against the wall.
“Rates and rents are too high and have been for a long time so I hope this might make landlords more desperate to let.
“This is also exactly why we want to pedestrianise Lumley Road to create a bit of cafe culture and ambiance to make it an attractive place to shop.”
Mayor of Skegness Coun Steve Kirk shared Mrs Brown’s concerns over excessive rent, which he attributed to ‘absent landlords who don’t care whether shops are empty or not’.
He called for ’something radical to be done’ to look into the problem of vacant units, whereby local authorities could be authorised to take over perpetually empty shops and set their own rents.
On a positive note Coun Kirk felt that the current problems may just be part of a transition which will eventually see Lumley Road take on a more cultural and entertainment based purpose, as retail becomes increasingly an online activity.
Coun John Byford suggested a ‘happy hour’ parking scheme to encourage more visitors to the town in the late afternoon.
He said: “Free parking after 4pm would be great for families - mums and their kids could go into town after school and that’s the time of day that’s quieter for shops so it could help to get things going.
“This town will die unless drastic measures are taken - parking is just one of those - I also think Skegness is crying out for pedestrianisation.”