Friday, 31 December 1999

Argos - Killing the Small Retail Business in Cromer

Once again the small, retail business owner of Cromer is having to worry.

Earlier this year we had the proposed out of town garden centre scheme proposed by Cromer Hall owner Benjamin Cabbell-Manners. In a so-called attempt to save his family home, we were told that saving Cromer Hall was for the good of the town. But ask your average Joe Public in Cromer where exactly Cromer Hall is, and how to get there, then he probably won't be able to tell you.

But while Mr. Cabbell-Manners was hatching his little plan, a larger monster was looming on the horizon with an even bigger plan. The monster's name - ARGOS.

At a time when the economy is seemingly on the brink of recession, the news that Argos want to open a new store on the outskirts of Cromer cannot be good news to the small business owners in the town centre. Granted, they may provide the local area with much needed employment, but in creating these jobs, how many more will be lost in the shops in Cromer's town centre?

Having lived in Cromer all of my life, I have watched the town centre and surrounding streets change from a variety of thriving businesses to what now seems to be nothing more than a collection of hairdressers, junkshops, small cafes and estate agents. Where once there was diversity, now there is stagnation.

While placing an Argos store on the outskirts of Cromer may be good for the average shopper who can't be bothered to go to Norwich, it could prove disastrous for the average shop keeper, and at a time when doom and gloom are being predicted in the financial markets, this is the last thing they should have to worry about.

With Safeway having landed the first blows a few years ago, and Mr. Cabbell-Manners and Argos are now waiting in line to deliver the next shots. As a friend of mine said to me, why don't the local council just write to every shopkeeper in Cromer and ask them to stop trading?