Business leaders have come up with a list of ideas to halt Hadleigh High Street’s decline in the face of increased competition.
According to Hadleigh Chamber of Commerce, up to 50 per cent of high street customers are said to have deserted the town since the opening of a new Morrisons store.
Around 55 business owners and traders attended a specially-organised meeting on Wednesday to discuss what could be done to generate new high street trade. Possible solutions include:
l Moving the town’s market to outside Partridges hardware store
l Having more events in the high street and getting all the retailers involved in a co-ordinated way to run them
l Appointing a “town team” in charge of revitalising the high street, and
l Getting Hadleigh businesses online so anyone can order goods from any shop.
Tony Addison, president of the chamber, said the meeting was well attended and resulted in 65 different ideas being put forward.
“The vast majority were very positive, with only three or four negative comments,” he said. “There were also a lot of people from Hadleigh’s industrial estate who attended the meeting.
“There is a great deal of support for the town centre and the high street from the industrial estate.
“They chose to set up or move their business to Hadleigh because of the character of the town. They want to pledge their support for it.”
Mr Addison said all the ideas would be circulated to all the retailers in the town with the hope that some of them would be implemented in the coming months.
Meanwhile, the Co-op supermarket in the high street said it had real concerns about another supermarket coming to the town.
Amanda Long, executive officer for membership, marketing and media for the East of England Co-operative Society, said: “Some local shops have told us they could be around 30 per cent down.
“We have real concerns about the vitality and viability of the high street in Hadleigh if another large store opens.
“We have traded from our site in Hadleigh for some 115 years and, in that time, have grown to meet the needs of the town and local community. We co-exist with other shops.
“We sell products that complement our fellow retailers, without stripping away their trade – indeed, we removed our pick-and-mix sweets to avoid competing with the local sweet shops.”