Hull’s main street has seen a lot of big names over the years.
The main street of the city, like any other, was usually a magnet for visitors who wanted to try on clothes, flip through books and CDs or look for special goods. Since Hull, the United Kingdom and much of the world plunged into economic crisis after the 2008 recession, many of the city’s once thriving shops have closed forever.
The decade that followed the rise of online retailers such as Amazon and ASOS claimed more casualties on the main streets and pushed out brands unable to offer the convenience of online shopping. And the coronavirus pandemic, which began in March 2020, only increased the pressure.
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Stores from small independent to large brands were closed during the lock, so many struggled or could not survive. In its speech to the Queen this week, the government presented plans to try to reverse this trend.
Ministers plan to offer enhanced powers to councils to force commercial landlords to lease vacant units for more than a year. Overhauls have also been proposed to strengthen the system of mandatory purchase orders (CPOs), which allow local authorities to purchase real estate without the consent of the owners.
This is according to data from the British Retail Consortium, which showed that one in seven stores in the UK is empty. And a survey by Property Inspect in December found that Hull has the highest vacancy rate in the UK, 26.47 per 100,000 people, compared to the national average of 6.17.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the proposals, which come as part of the Compensation and Regeneration Act, will breathe life into the main streets. Mr Johnson said: “Main streets across the country have long been destroyed by abandoned shop windows because they have been neglected and deprived local areas of opportunities.
“We are putting this right by putting power back in the hands of local leaders and the community so that our cities can rejuvenate, equalize opportunities and restore neighborhood pride.” In light of the suggestions, here are some of the big names that have left Hull’s main streets and what, if anything, have replaced them.
While some have been given new life, others remain empty with questions about who can take over some of the larger former department stores.
The mascarade opened on Paragon Street near Hull City Hall for five years after moving from its previous headquarters on Holderness Road in 2015. The fancy dress store once featured mannequins in haunting and flashy costumes in its shop windows and was a popular place for people looking for costumes.
The company survived the first coronavirus blockade, although it was forced to close along with others on Main Street in accordance with government rules. However, owner Joanna Martyn definitively closed the Mascarade in October 2020 after the then-six rule of gathering stopped Halloween parties and cut off a key source of earnings.
The unit on Paragon Street, where the store used to be, is still empty.
Fraser’s House once stood on the corner of Paragon Square, opposite Hull Train and Bus Station. The building he inhabited was first opened in May 1952 as the Hammonds department store.
The House of Fraser chain later moved, but prospects for closure first appeared in 2018 after the company announced it was closing several stores across the UK. When Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley made a successful takeover bid, he was close to rescue, but was eventually closed in July 2019 with a loss of 81 jobs.
But the building took on a new life as the Hammonds of Hull grocery store, which opened just before Christmas last year.
The fish and chips restaurant and takeaway has been home to the Hull Pattie and Carver family for decades. The business first opened on King Street after the Carvers began selling food at the Hull Fair in the 1920s before moving to Trinity House Lane.
The restaurant survived the death of Bob Carver in May 2018, with his wife Carol taking the helm after he died. However, it never reopened after the prime minister ordered unnecessary deals in March 2020.
Mr. Carver’s son Bob runs a food stall on Chapel Street, but the business is separate from the business outside Trinity House Lane. The store remains empty, but still has the original brand.
Jameson Street Sainsbury’s Local closed in January after a review of its corporate stores. A Sainsbury’s spokesman said at the time that the decision to close the deal depended on a number of factors.
Customers who want Sainsbury’s products have been advised to go to local shops on Princes Avenue and Chanterlands Avenue west of downtown. However, the unit was caught by SimpyFresh food retailers, and the takeover of the store on Jameson Street marked its first foray into Hull as SimplyLocal.
SimplyFresh’s website states that its goal is to sell local and UK products as well as a range of branded goods and present itself as ‘Your Neighborhood Store’.
Woolworths’ King Edward Street, one of the main pillars of every major street, was once one of more than 800 in operation across the UK. The business, tenderly known as the Woolies, began in Liverpool in 1909 and was once the single point of contact for children’s toys, clothing, video consoles and games and its famous selection mixes.
However, it was an early victim of the recession that followed the financial crisis in 2008, with the last deals closing in January 2009. Part of the former King Edward Street Woolworths later became PoundWorld, which has also closed since then.
The store is now empty, but the Woolworths and PoundWorld signs are still visible.
The fashion clothing store once occupied two floors in Hull’s St Stephens Shopping Center, which also included the Topman men’s line. However, the deal closed after its owners Arcadia went bankrupt in December 2020, when online retailer ASOS bought Topshop and other brands and moved them online in February of the following year.
Its demise allowed another chain to move in, with customers standing in line to reach The Vintage Store when it first opened in April. The opening of the Vintage Store in the former Topshop followed a successful operation in the former Lloyds Bank branch in Chapel Street.
Shoppers can visit the store and buy clothes in vintage and retro style in kilograms. The opening of the Vintage Store in Hull follows his move to York and plans to expand to Liverpool, Nottingham, Leeds and London.
The Debenhams department store has been operating in Hull for almost 70 years. Its Prospect Street store last opened in May 2021 after the company collapsed the previous year when it collapsed due to a coronavirus closure.
At the sale, which took place in the last days in Hull, customers could pack goods up to 80 percent of the retail price. But the tenants were less eager to move into the store itself, and it remained empty, including the Debenhams brand.
Oakwood Dog Rescue moved to its new premises on the corner of King Edward Street earlier this year and opened its second charity shop in March. The store used to be a pawn shop, and the three golden balls that marked its earlier use remained above the charity store right after it opened.
Volunteer Gemma Catchpole said the sale from the store would make a huge difference for the dogs the charity helps. She said, “The gifts are over and we’re just finishing the interiors. We’ve had some scribbles on the windows and it looks really good.”