THE future of shopping in Southend is once again uncertain with a potential closure of a H&M store – and a prominent Royals store soon to be empty.
With Primark in the Royals moving over to the new superstore in the high street, mystery remains over what the plans are to fill the empty space.
Swedish fashion giant H&M also announced last week that it would close 250 of its stores globally after the pandemic moved more shoppers online.
Which stores will close is yet to be decided, but it does pose the question as to whether it will see having two stores in Southend as viable.
There is one H&M store in the high street and another in The Royals, a much newer store with a large “home” section. Should this store be axed, it will leave two giant holes in The Royals Shopping Centre.
Kimberley Ford, 30, a shopper from Leigh, said: “I think it’s sad everyone has moved over to online. I know everyone had to over the pandemic but it’s down to us to help keep these shops stay alive.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if they do close the H&M in The Royals as I don’t think it’s as popular as the one in the high street.
“With Primark being gone as well, it won’t really leave much in The Royals anymore other than for TK Maxx.”
The Victoria Shopping Centre is also up for sale, it announced last week.
A spokesman for H&M, said: “Our physical stores remain incredibly important and we want to ensure that we have the right stores in the right locations.
“We see that the physical stores and online are complementing each other to meet customers’ needs and giving them the experiences that they are clearly showing us they want to have.”
Councillor Ron Woodley hopes his new parking scheme, Southend Pass, will encourage shoppers.
It is expected to be ready from April, where visitors will pay less than £8 each month to park for three-hour periods anywhere in the town.