The worrying number of worrying number of empty shops lying dormant in Hull city centre

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 7 Mar 2019

Some of Hull city centre's major shopping streets and centres are continuing to decline with more shop units left empty.

The number of vacant shops in areas including King Edward Street, Whitefriargate and Jameson Street has increased by 60 per cent in just the past six months.

High streets up and down the UK are facing a tough time in the industry, and the latest findings show Hull is no different.

A count of the empty shops around the city centre revealed there are 75 stores, which once were filled with variety of businesses luring shoppers, now standing dormant. 

HullBID, the organisation which looks after the development of businesses in Hull city centre, says their figures show there is currently 61 empty shops in the city centre. 

Hull Live's count includes units which have been turned into temporary art installations in Princes Quay Shopping Centre, which may allow for the difference.

Huge units such as BHS and Poundworld have now been closed for some time, but more recent departures including Red Star and Fed N Watered have only made matters worse.

At last count six months ago, there were 47 empty shops in the city's main shopping areas.

Along with the impending departure of Hull's flagship Marks and Spencer store in Whitefriargate, the latest numbers points to an ongoing decline in Hull's high street.

However, HullBID also say key shopping areas are changing, with places like Bond Street, Humber Street and Paragon Arcade now taking up a greater share of the city's retail units.

Here is how many empty units there are in Hull's shopping hotspots and how they compare to the last count in September 2018.

Whitefriargate – 16 empty units (was 10)

Empty shops are appearing at an alarming rate in what was once the heart of Hull's high street.

The impending departure of Marks and Spencer - which is likely to be the biggest loss of all - means Whitefiargate can ill afford to lose any more retailers.  But the last six months have seen another six more make way.

Ann Summers departed for Jameson Street in November, following on from the likes of Kapow, Grainger Games and Bonmarché that all moved on earlier in 2018.

Several other units have been turned into temporary art installations or been covered over with advertising.

Princes Quay - 20 empty units (was 10)

An empty unit in Princes Quay

More empty units have become available for new businesses to move into in the shopping centre.

Despite the presence of popular restaurants like Pizza Express and Nando's, and stores such as Topshop, Hamley's and Next Outlet, there are still plenty of spaces up for grabs at Princes Quay.

A number of empty spaces have been temporarily filled with window displays, while advertising has been plastered over others.

The departure of Vodafone from its store on the second floor continues to leave behind a sizeable gap while a number of units near the Monument Bridge entrance also lay empty.

Read more: EYMS says Hull city centre is on the decline

Ever-popular sandwich shop Herby's is also due to move out of the centre at the end of March.

New shops have moved in though, with Wallpaper-it-is is among them. The decorating company opened its first UK store in January.

King Edward Street - 12 empty units (was five)

Another empty unit in King Edward Street

King Edward Street has always been a central thoroughfare through the city for visitors and shoppers alike.  But, while the likes of Tesco Express and Subway remain, more businesses have left.

Independents such as Card Market and My Gadget have both closed in recent times, leaving behind yet more empty space.

The former Carers’ Information and Support Service remains defunct, as does the unit which used to house Past Times after Pret-A-Manger announced it had pulled out of taking up the space.

Jameson Street - seven empty units (was four)

BHS before it closed in 2016

Hull's biggest empty shop remains on the horizon throughout a walk along Jameson Street.  The former BHS site looms large despite the increase in vacant spaces.

Red Star only opened towards the beginning of 2018 but has already served its last customer, having shut for good in January.  The shop only replaced Greenwoods Menswear a year ago, after the chain went into administration.

Read more: Hullaballoon expands into Trinity Market 12 years after starting at Hull Fair

Other units including those once filled by MAC-Lloyd Hair and Beauty, and Prem Menswear Shop are also now vacant.

Thankfully the huge former BHS site will soon be turned into the £130m Albion Square development, meaning all is not lost for that part of town.

Paragon Street - nine empty units (was six)

Wonderful things are happening in Paragon Arcade which has an entrance in Paragon Street - however more empty units are appearing in the main street.

Bronx Clothing near the cenotaph as well as The Kingston Tavern pub are just two of nine gaps that need filling.

A number of shops are available to rent although the presence of 'To Let' signs appears to be growing, not shrinking.

Prospect Street - five empty units (remains the same)

Two empty units in Prospect Street

While the number of shops leaving Prospect Street has not increased, shops are still coming and going in the road which links Ferensway to King Edward Street.

In the past six months alone, the shutters have come down on Fed N Watered café and Blue Sea.

The Asian clothing store had been targeted by vandals several times before shutting around the turn of the year.

Neither shop has been filled and both are looking for new businesses to move in, less than a year after Farmfoods also shut its doors.

St Stephen's Shopping Centre - three empty units (remains the same)

Superdry's store in Hull (Lincolnshire Echo)

Not much has changed over the past six months at the city's newest shopping centre.  Almost all units are taken up in the ever-popular venue although there are still spaces to be had.

The ex Sports Direct and Peacocks stores both continue to lay empty, after the former moved onto Ferensway and the latter decided its time in the city centre was up.

One empty unit remains in place upstairs where Handmade Burger Co left to head over to Jameson Street.

Prospect Centre (including surrounding shops) - two empty units (was 4)

Things are looking up for Prospect Centre.  Despite its size, it is still an achievement to say the venue is full to the brim.

Every unit inside the centre is taken up while the outside space has just two empty spaces - both of which sit side-by-side in Brook Street.

What HullBID says

Kathryn Shillito, executive director at HullBID

Hull BID, which works with traders to develop a stronger business environment in the city centre, is continuing to encourage more businesses into the area.

The changing face of the high street, with more areas such as Humber Street becoming key to the city's development, means the "retail footprint" is altering, according to Kathryn Shillito, HullBID's executive director.

Read more: HullBID Awards 2019 winners revealed in glitsy Hull Minster ceremony

She said: "We adhere to the criteria set by the Association of Town and City Management to calculate the true picture. In February 2019 the percentage of empty retail units in the BID area, which encompasses all city centre streets, stood at 12.6 per cent, compared to 13.6 per cent in September 2018.

"The retail footprint in the city centre is shifting slightly, and we see new retail opening in areas that historically would not have been viewed as prime footfall routes, for example Bond Street and Humber Street, whilst Paragon Arcade has introduced additional retail units occupied by niche independent businesses which is encouraging.

"We are also seeing retail delivered differently; Trinity Market has seen a marked increase in the number of independent retailers that have opened in the past 12 months.

"Increasing numbers of people choosing city living will bring further demand for retail and we are increasingly seeing units taken up by service providers such as hairdressers and beauty clinics."



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