It's time to help regular retailers
TIVERTON on a Sunday can be a pretty desolate place. While elsewhere the traditional day of rest is now chosen by many as the best time to catch up on their shopping, few stores feel it's worthwhile in Mid Devon.
The manager of one retailer which is closing down soon told the Gazette they had trialled Sunday openings. They had to sell just £125 worth of goods to break even, but even this modest target was out of reach with the overheads of staffing and electricity.
Elsewhere in Crediton and Cullompton it's a similar story.
But one of the few shops which has started opening on Sunday is the British Heart Foundation outlet in Tiverton's Fore Street.
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With huge discounts on rates, nothing to pay for most of their merchandise, no VAT to raise the price of most products and a pool of willing volunteers, charity shops just don't face the same economic realities as everyone else.
Traditionally the charity sector used up unwanted space in the fringy parts of town.
But now we are seeing, in the case of the QS store in Bampton Street, the perverse situation where a "proper" shop which actually employs people is being outbid on rent by the Children's Hospice South West.
What is particularly unfortunate about this case is there is certainly no shortage of retail space available in the town. Perhaps the charity should have moved into one of the empty units at the town hall end of Fore Street?
But Bampton Street and Gold Street are now the prime shopping areas of Tiverton, and charities have wised up to the fact they are as affected by footfall in just the same way as anyone else.
A thriving town centre needs a mix of shops With the number of charity outlet in Tiverton now in double figures, it's time to give traditional retailers a few breaks.