This month’s semi-reopened (AND SLIGHTLY LATE RUNNING) window on the shop windows
As we speak, we are now into the second month of what is our third lockdown in England. Once again, non-essential retail premises remain closed, as do our public houses. With recent good news on the COVID-19 vaccines and a drop in the R rate, the odds on our non-essential shops reopening are shortening (or so we think).
Across the UK, the last month has been pretty grim for the High Street with the loss of some iconic retail names. How much of this will affect Tameside?
The sound of our streets seem to be socially distanced tumbleweed
On our streets, the last month seems to have been quieter than usual for what is often the quietest month after Christmas. Saturday afternoon – once the busiest time for many retailers as late as 25 years ago – seems to be as quiet as Sunday afternoons were 30 years ago. On a health point of view, this is good news as the Stay At Home message is being upheld across our borough.
Ashton and Hyde Market Halls have remained open, only for the sale of essential items. Any purveyors of non-essential items can continue to sell their wares online with click and collect services available from their stalls. At essential retailers like B&M, Poundland, Iceland and Home Bargains, footfall has been steady though muted in parts.
With Saturday no longer the busy shopping day it used to be, Stagecoach Greater Manchester will be making some short term changes to their Saturday services from tomorrow (14 February). In the last fortnight, First Greater Manchester have made some changes to their 348, 350 and 409 routes in our borough.
Peacocks and Bon Marché reprieved again
In the last month, the Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s store chains which include Bon Marché and Peacocks have been given a reprieve. Part of their rescue package includes the loss of 119 stores with over 1,300 jobs gone in the process. There has already been closing down sales at Peacocks’ branches in Ashton-under-Lyne, Droylsden and Hyde, and at Bon Marché stores in Ashton-under-Lyne and Hyde.
Arcadia Group stores
Five years after the Arcadia Group transferred the business of its Burton/Dorothy Perkins store from Ashton to Denton, we now find that its Denton Outfit store will be closing. By the end of this year, the Arcadia Group will no longer have a High Street presence across the UK. In the last week, their Burton, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins brands were sold to Manchester-based online retailer BooHoo.com. Its other brands, Topshop, Topman, and Miss Selfridge were sold to ASOS.com.
With the sale of these iconic brands to online retailers, this would leave a massive gap in our High Streets and retail parks. Two weeks ago, Debenhams was also sold to BooHoo.com, a move that would see many medium-sized towns losing their last department store.
In Ashton-under-Lyne, one recent addition is Vibes, a menswear store on Mercian Way in the Ladysmith Shopping Centre. For now it has closed due to the lockdown restrictions on non-essential retail premises.
New to Stalybridge is Krafty Kits Design and Gifts. Situated on 9, Armentieres Square, they have responded to the lockdown-era boom of making things at home. As the name suggests, it is a mecca for crafty types in and around the Tameside area. What’s more, you can also shop with them online.
Soon to make a comeback in Tameside is The Art and Craft Centre Ltd. In the last month, they said on their Instagram feed that they could be returning to the borough after being based in Llandudno. Their first shop in Stalybridge was the former Ethel Austin/Kwik Save/F.W. Woolworth/Stalybridge Industrial Cooperative Society unit, part of the much expanded Society Rooms pub. After ‘Spoons took on the unit, they moved to Corporation Street, trading as Be Creative. Wherever they will be moving to, we cannot wait to see them back on our High Streets. For now, their website and Instagram feed is worth a peek.
Forthcoming Planning Applications
Any plans affecting our public houses will be seen in the Pub and Club Update section. Aye thank you…
Another quiet month.
- A former betting shop on 177 Manchester Road, Mossley, could be converted into a studio for community use. Its aim is to become a one-stop shop where people could get help and support in getting healthier.
- Plans have been submitted for the construction of a new ALDI store on Snipe Retail Park. It is likely to be on the site of the present-day Pizza Hut unit, making this ALDI’s first Audenshaw branch.
- After lying empty for some time, the first, second and third floor rooms above the British Raj takeaway (36 Market Street, Stalybridge) could be converted into a three-bedroom three-storey maisonette. This will be accessed by stairs from the outhouse off Queen Street.
Little to report; a short but sweet update again.
- As mentioned in greater detail, the disappearance of the Arcadia Group’s brands from our High Streets.
- VIBES menswear shop in the Ladysmith Shopping Centre.
- Krafty Kits Design and Gifts, Armentieres Square, Stalybridge.
Pub and club update
Though the pubs are still closed for the time being, there has been no shortage of activity. Also a few comings and goings.
After nearly thirteen years at The Albion Hotel in Dukinfield, Ann and Vincent Cocca will be leaving the pub in April. With the indefatigable Guinness keeping an eye out for trouble causers, it retained its position as a popular locals’ pub with live music and football. One that hosted its first Whit Friday Brass Band Contest in 2018. The pub is available for letting.
Elsewhere, we have had reports that The Chapel House on Astley Street has closed, for the second time within eighteen months. Further up, on the junction with King Street, The Commercial is in the midst of internal and external refurbishment. Improvements have included new signage and navy blue painted walls.
For St. Valentine’s Day, The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn (Mark Two) is introducing a delivery service with a special set menu. Delivery is free of charge for residents within a three mile radius of the pub on Market Street, Stalybridge, or another £2.00 if you live outside the radius. Please note that the minimum order for your meal is £20.00. Candles and slushy music CDs are not included (there’s always TESCO for that).
Depubification could affect The Queen Inn on the corner of Katherine Street and Oldham Road in Ashton-under-Lyne. Plans have been submitted for the former Marstons house’s conversion into four flats.
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Our next Ashton Review of Shops will be out on the 06 March 2021 at the usual time of 9am. As to why The Ashton Review of Shops didn’t appear on the 06 February, there were problems with internet access at EM60 Towers. We apologise for any inconvenience and hope that it didn’t ruin your Saturday too much.
Who knows where we’ll be next month? As always, feel free to add your observations. We hope Guinness enjoys his retirement.
S.V., 13 February 2021.