Two major retailers will remain on Wigan’s high street despite retail bosses announcing a series of store closures across the UK.
HMV and Debenhams are set to shut down dozens of stores between them this month but Wigan’s branches - both of which are located in the Grand Arcade shopping centre - were spared the axe and do not appear on either retailer’s list of outlets under consideration.
HMV has warned of job losses and the closure of up to 10 stores unless it is able to secure new deals with its landlords.
The company confirmed that a further three stores in Bury St Edmunds, Glasgow and Nuneaton will shut at the end of the month, with new tenants already lined up to move into the properties.
It is not the first time Wigan’s HMV store has survived the company’s financial woes. The CD, DVD and entertainment retailer returned to the town centre in November 2018 following a five year absence, but was at risk of waving goodbye again just one month later when the business went into administration for the second time in five years.
HMV said that some stores were no longer viable due to “extortionate” business rates in certain locations.
The company said it was also relocating in Lincoln and Plymouth, with new stores opening in both cities at the start of February.
HMV’s announcement came at the same time that department store chain Debenhams, which entered administration in April 2019 to reduce its debt, announced that it was due to close 19 of its stores between January 11 and 25, with a further 28 reportedly set to close in 2021.
John Sanson, Centre Manager at the Grand Arcade, said that 2020 would be a tough year for retailers across the town, despite the good news that two shops had avoided the axe.
He said: “The shopper is getting more savvy, waiting for sales instead of buying at full price, for example, and we still have the internet to deal with. Shopping habits are changing.
“But online operators haven’t done as well as they thought they would either, so there could well be a swing back to bricks and mortar.”
Mr Sanson also said the recent relocation of M&S from the high street to Robin Park had led to a decrease in turnout for all shops.
“Footfall is down because of the M&S closure, I don’t think that was ever going to be in doubt,” he said.
“I think its affected footfall for the town as a whole, it was a blow to lose it from the town centre.”