This month’s bare essentials only window on the shop windows

A lot has happened in the last month to our bars and retail premises. Thanks to the second wave of COVID-19 cases, we are now in the midst of a second lockdown. It is anticipated that England’s circuit-breaking lockdown would last until the 02 December.

In Tameside, along with the other nine boroughs that make up Greater Manchester, we had been in Tier 3 which has meant the closure of wet-led pubs. Since Thursday, Lockdown 2.0 (as it has been dubbed in some sources) would see the closure of non-essential shops.

Farewell to Wm. Walton

Ashton-under-Lyne’s oldest shop Wm. Walton and Sons has closed its doors. For many Ashtonians and cake makers, it was noted for the sale of cake supplies – candles, ribbons, and cake tins. Formed in 1832, it had been owned by the same family for 188 years.

Sadly, Wm. Walton’s closure couldn’t have come at a worse time. Firstly, it coincides with the closure of non-essential shops as part of the lockdown. Secondly (thanks to the previous lockdown), it has come at a time when cake baking has enjoyed a rise in popularity.

Some may argue that Ashton’s car parking kerfuffle (from autumn 2017) played a part in Wm. Walton’s departure from Stamford Street Centre. COVID-19 could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. They will be sadly missed.

Back in 2011, Stephen Marland (the Modern Moocher) took a tour round Wm. Walton’s shop. Margaret and Dave kindly showed him around parts of the shop unseen by many customers.

TAC Tales

Demolition of stands A to G of Ashton Bus Station Mark III has now been completed. So far, what remains of the third version of Ashton Bus Station is the vacated TfGM Travelshop and control centre, plus the former WHSmith and Betfred units.

Retail redundancies and closures

The last week hasn’t made for good reading for Sainsburys employees with the announcement of 3,300 job losses. The biggest cuts will fall on Sainsburys’ fresh produce counters – which will be discontinued. Sainsburys isn’t the first store chain to make that decision; it was a move that TESCO has made in the last year.

As the switch to online shopping continues, Sainsburys cuts will affect the Argos catalogue shop chain. Forthcoming cuts will see the closure of all its standalone stores – which in Tameside would affect the Hyde and Snipe Retail Park branches. By 2024, it is envisaged that all Argos stores will be situated inside Sainsburys superstores.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill, owners of the Peacocks and Bon Marché chains have filed for bankruptcy.

Carry On At Your Convenience Store

Convenience stores have formed a major part of this month’s retail comings in the Tameside area. Last month we announced the arrival of Dukinfield’s One-Stop store on King Street, which has opened in the last week.

Yesterday [06 November], the Town Shopper store on Wellington Road, Ashton-under-Lyne, has reopened as Go Local Extra. It was formerly the Irish National Institute – back in the day when the Prince of Orange used to troll the place by playing Penny Arcade.

Forthcoming Planning Applications

Only two plans which concern our shops and licensed premises (the latter is in our Pub and Club Update). The only retail related plan of note concerns the deshopification of 261 Stockport Road, Guide Bridge. The ground floor unit will be converted into a one-bedroom dwelling.

Retail Movements

Little to report; a short but sweet update again.

  • Shortly before Lockdown 2.0, Fairytalez on Melbourne Street, Stalybridge opened their wedding shop.
  • Bargain Buys has vacated their Warrington Street unit with the transfer of its business to the Poundstretcher store opposite Ashton-under-Lyne Interchange (AuLBS004). Despite some wag pinning up posters advertising Primark and Sports Direct as new tenants. the truth is more mundane. Poundland will be taking on the unit with an expanded Pep and Co section and an expanded food section with the addition of frozen food.
  • As seen above, the One-Stop and Go Local Extra stores in Dukinfield and Ashton-under-Lyne respectively have opened.

Pub and club update

Over the last month, our pubs and restaurants have been at the sharp end of local lockdown measures. Before Thursday, they were under Tier 3 restrictions which meant only pubs selling a substantial meal could open up to 10pm. With the lockdown, our pints will have to be purchased from The Tagliatelle and Toilet Tissue (your local supermarket of course).

To make up for lost pints and their inability to call time in the traditional sense, our pubs have been able to sell beer off the premises. Sadly, this change – introduced shortly after Wednesday’s House of Commons vote on the second lockdown – came too late for our locals that have already made up their minds.

Instead of being miserable about it, our friends at The Wheatsheaf in Dukinfield has made good use of the second lockdown period. They chose to refurbish the Public Bar as the new Games Room.

Prior to the lockdown, The Lodge Hotel (a 10 – 15 minute stagger from The Wheatsheaf) had put in plans for the addition of a new smoking shelter.

*                     *                    *

Next Month:

Our next Ashton Review of Shops will be out on the 05 December 2020 at the usual time of 9am. With the ‘non-essential’ shops reopening on the 02 December, this would make for a tight window for the spending frenzy up to Christmas.

If you would like to add to this month’s digest of retail movements, feel free to comment. How will you be coping with Lockdown 2.0? Drop us a line.

S.V., 07 November 2020.

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