Retail in Havant – ‘A letter from Portsmouth’

With the imminent closure of their last remaining Debenhams, along with Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Topshop and Miss Selfridge, Portsmouth’s Commercial Road retail offer has all but sunk without trace.

The following post has been written by a friend of HCS who lives in Southsea, a regular visitor to Havant. Worth reading and considering just how much potential Havant town centre actually has!

Use it or lose it

“Many businesses, both big and small, rely on their trading during the lead up to Christmas to carry them through the rest of the year.  This year November has been lost due to Lockdown 2 which came in just as the shops were starting to bring out their Christmas stock and the pubs and cafes were filling their kitchens with seasonal goodies ready for the festive trade.

Perhaps you have already gone online and have ordered or bought-in Christmas, but I’m sure you still need some extra bits and bobs to get, so, please, if you can, go local.

Havant has a variety of local stores, and don’t forget The Spring, which is a little beyond the precinct and has cards and gifts (as well as a lovely café), plus there are lots of other cafes and hostelries around the town.

And, don’t forget the fine selection of charity shops which are great for cards and quirky gifts, and the florists and hairdressers, and . . . . yes, also the Havant branches of larger companies too, which you are very fortunate to have.  (Portsmouth’s sole remaining M&S is a ‘food only’ store on the airport site, not in its main shopping centre – hardly accessible if you don’t have a car!)

The independent businesses are a vital part of Havant.  Spending locally invests in the community and their example encourages others to come in.

I mustn’t gossip but I’ve heard that independent businesses have been denied premises in the Havant town centre because the landlords insist on holding out for a ‘big name store’. Don’t these people read the news?  In the last couple of years many so-called “names” have disappeared and many are to follow.  If I were a landlord I would want some rent money rather than an empty shop.  So, surely a local independent business is ‘win-win’? 

A good market town, and Havant is one, is one that has a variety of local businesses supported by the community.  Lots of new housing is being proposed and built in and around Havant, it would be great if these new residents can do much of their shopping locally too.     

So today, now that the Lockdown is over, if you can, seek out and support the local businesses, most will have also spent a lot of money to make their premises Covid safe, make it money well spent.  Your local high street needs you!

And another thing . . . Portsmouth City Council has supported a project to use the ground floor of the empty Southsea Debenhams store as a monthly indoor market which has been incredibly popular (sadly the November events didn’t happen because of Lockdown rules).  There is empty space in the Meridian Centre, which is now owned by Havant Borough Council, which could be used creatively, instead it’s left empty.  It is a prime asset.  Why can’t it be used for ‘something’?  It’s a little further out but North Street Arcade would be a great space for an open air market or even as a performance space, bringing more business to the shops in that area.   Just a thought.  

Happy, and safe, local shopping! ”    

And just a reminder of a few of the national retailers, mostly within walking distance of Havant town centre: