Fringe Box



Retail Buzz As 23 New Shops Open for Business In Town This Year

Published on: 22 Jun, 2022
Updated on: 22 Jun, 2022

By Hugh Coakley

Nine chain shops and eight Indies have opened in Guildford since last December and, with another six new entries in the pipeline, the retail buzz in the town looks to be continuing despite depressing economic news nationally. (See the list of new shops at the end of this article.)

“This level of new shops is well above average and better than adjoining towns such as Godalming,” said Alex Bellion from local agents Owen Isherwood.

“People are feeling the pinch” but in resilient Guildford, the “high-end retailers are doing well”.

He said shops with a service element which can’t easily be obtained online, such as food, were doing best. Shops offering “pure retail” were fighting against online competition and were in less demand.

Opticians Nicklins won the Jubilee Window competition. From the left, Mayoress Mary Booth and Mayor Dennis Booth, Debbie, Nicola Vidler from Nicklins and Pete Lambert from Experience Guildford.

Town traders were sounding stoical but there was an overall feeling of resilience. Footfall is creeping up but, at around 20 per cent down from pre-pandemic, it was seen as a fundamental issue.

Surprisingly, few shopkeepers talked about the cost of living crisis or energy prices. But Lucy of Solar Sisters said energy costs are high and getting worse and added: “It’s an extremely tough climate for small independent businesses. Rent is our biggest issue”.

More traders complained about parking charges which were seen not as a huge cost but more a deterrent to shoppers.

Times are still tough for retailers. Landlords are looking for new tenants for the Jack Wills clothes shop in the High Street.

One trader said: “Some people are feeling the pinch now and looking at prices, but the high-end shops are doing well”.

Bellion said there is good demand for shops “if landlords are sensible with rents” and added that rents had gone down by as much as 50 per cent in the prime, “cobbled” area of the High Street and up to 25 per cent reduction in the adjacent roads.

No empty shops in Friary Street. Shops offering services, not just “pure retail”, are in demand says local property agent Alex Bellion from Owen Isherwood.

He said demand in the out-of-town centre shopping parades was also good with few shops staying empty for long.

The Guildford Institute have a ground floor unit to let after the Royal Bank of Scotland departed. What will the new tenants do with the bank vault left in the cellar?

Continuing the trend of the last two quarters, there are six new ventures in the process of opening or applying for planning permission for their new shop signs.

A Carl Scarpa shoe shop has put in a planning application for the former Prestons jewellery shop in the High Street.

Just up the road, Danish bakers, Ole & Steen, are hoping to move to the Ted Baker clothes shop which is closing on July 3.

Hoxton Bakehouse nearly ready to open in Market Street. Will it draw the footfall as Gail’s did for Tunsgate?

And yet another new bakers, Hoxton Bakehouse, is only days away from opening in Market Street. Other shops are hoping their presence will give Market Street the bounce Gail’s Bakery gave to Tunsgate.

Kerrera, a craft beer and gin bar is looking to open in Jeffries Passage next to the haute-cuisine Indian restaurant, Ravis.

A welcome addition to North Street, the engineered wood flooring and cladding specialists, Havwoods, will be opening in the next couple of weeks in the long-empty shop formerly occupied by the furniture shop, Wesley-Barrell.

Fallen Angel cocktail and cabaret bar is to open in The angel Hotel on June 25.

A new cocktails and cabaret bar, Fallen Angel, is due to open on June 25. Said to be the brainchild of Guildford entrepreneur and Guildford Fringe owner, Nick Whyscna, it promises “Drag, Burlesque, Comedy and Theatre as well as the best cocktails in town and the staff at The Fallen Angel are all performers”. Actress Jenny Seagrove is a patron and writer and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth is on the board.

But whilst there were more positives than negatives, the difficult conditions for retail continued. Jack Wills clothes shop in the High Street is up for rent. Staff in the shop said they hadn’t been told what was happening to the store which went into administration in 2019 and had been bought by Sports Direct.

The new shops since Christmas 2021 include chains TAG Heuer watches, fast food Taco Bell, Itsu Asian fast food, London Medical Laboratory, Ivy Asia, Sleep 8 sleeping beds and mattresses, Thai street food Slim Chickens, opticians Ollie Quinn, Celly’s Unisex Hair Salon.

Yet to open include: bakers Hoxton Bakehouse, Carl Scarpa shoe shop, Danish bakers Ole & Steen and wood flooring and cladding specialistsHavwoods.

New independents include: Framing Castle, Dolce & Salato deli, mobile phone specialists Feng Tech, Solar Sisters zero waste shop, pre-owned designer clothing Misty and Claridge, crystals and healing at Indigo Moon Holistics, Zero Carbon Guildford and Deli Italy in The Shambles.  And yet to open, Kerrera craft beer and gin bar.

See also It’s Goodbye To TGI Fridays After 24 Years And Other Guildford Shop News (Feb 2022) and Covid Uncertainty Hitting Retail But 14 New Town Shops Show Cautious Confidence (Dec 2021).

Share This Post

Responses to Retail Buzz As 23 New Shops Open for Business In Town This Year

  1. Sara Tokunaga Reply

    June 22, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    So there was a Jubilee Window competition. I, and several of my friends, saw no evidence of it at all in the shop windows of the High Street and North Street. How many shops entered?

  2. Georgina Grant Reply

    June 22, 2022 at 5:11 pm

    For the first time in years, I have been to Woking.

    It was not a good experience as I was hoping to find retailers such as clothing and gifts.

    It would seem that High Streets are now just food and drink outlets. As someone who wishes to try on clothes, see the colours and feel the fabric, it was such a disappointment. And from the new shops due in Guildford, it would seem to be going the way of Woking.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *