Our retailing correspondent, MT WALLETTE, on the latest (partial) closure on Croydon’s already badly run-down High Street
WH Smith, one of the mainstays of the Whitgift Centre ever since it opened more than 50 years ago, is about to downsize its store in North End.
The newsagents, book shop and stationery store is preparing to shut down half its floor space by exiting the first-floor of its premises on North End early in the New Year.
It is the latest example, albeit partial, of the flight from Croydon town centre of major retailers, pubs and restaurants, that has been happening at a steady rate due to the development blight caused by landlords, the Whitgift Foundation, since they brought in Westfield with the promise of regeneration more than a decade ago.
In the past two years, John Lewis and, more recently, Waitrose, have both closed their Croydon outlets.
Marks and Spencer, who still have a flagship store in the Whitgift Centre, have been recruiting staff for an out-of-town shop on the Purley Way.
And even Wetherspoons have given up the ghost, announcing the closure of three of their pubs in Croydon.
A visit to WH Smith yesterday saw its upper floor marked up for a clearance sale.
The usual selection of diaries and calendars, ring-binders, pens and ink, paints and art equipment, notebooks and school supplies were looking badly depleted and run-down.
In one corner, a collection of buckets stood, ready for the next heavy rainfall to intrude into the store through its leaky roof.
As one loyal reader noted earlier this week, “I was in WH Smith before Christmas. It really is in a very sorry state.
“Many of the lights are not working, which gives it all a very gloomy feeling, I remember
“Maplin at West Croydon going the same way before they closed.
“There were a few people on the ground floor browsing the magazines and greetings cards. Upstairs there were just two other customers.
“I asked an assistant about this and he said that the upstairs will be closing after Christmas… All very sad and another nail in the coffin of the Whitgift Centre.”
Inside Croydon sought an official comment from WH Smith on their plans for the store, but had received no response by the time of publication.
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