If you read the news you will not have failed to notice the warnings over the fate of the UK high street. The news appears to come in cycles, with forecasts of job losses followed by good news of a high street resurgence before moving back round to tales of doom and gloom. Until recently Bromley High Street appeared to be bucking the national trend, however with recent closures, Bromley finally appears to be succumbing to the inevitable.

Bromley has always been a great place to shop and pass the time. With a mix of high street and slightly higher-end stores and a plethora of eateries, it has something for everyone. The closure of BHS however came as a shock both nationally and locally. It had always been a popular place to shop, indeed I remember shopping there with my grandmother from time to time. Since then stores seem to have been closing faster than they have been replaced. A once prosperous locale is now increasingly inhabited by To Let signs over spaces left empty by Russell and Bromley, SWAG and others. With the potential closure of the high street giants Debenhams and HMV, what is the future for Bromley High Street?

Recently IKEA has replaced Mothercare, LIDL has replaced BHS and a new Whistles clothing store is due to open in the Glades later this year. This may be the shot of adrenalin that the high street needs. A Ms C Reid who works in retail in Bromley states that in many retailers’ opinions the popularity of online shopping is doing irreparable damage to our high streets. She states that “it is much easier to sit at home and click buttons on your laptop to do your shopping than to brave the cold and rain and support your local shops in person. People should go and visit their local shops to support them rather than sit at home and complain that so many shops are closing down”. Certainly, retail analysts would agree with this argument. 

A new cinema on Masons Hill should in time also contribute to attracting people into Bromley as should the old Bromley cinema once it has been refurbished. A newly opened food court attached to the Glades has certainly helped to attract custom into the shopping centre to eat and shop but more needs to be done.

At a time when the giants are unable to compete with Amazon which is seemingly unstoppable, this writer would argue that perhaps now is the time for the return of smaller independent retailers. Independent shoe designers, clothes designers, niche bookstores, craft stores I believe could save the UK high street. When every corner appears to harbour the same coffee shops and clothing chains, something new and unique could offer the shopper a tempting alternative to browsing by keyboard and entice them back into the town centre. 

Whatever the long-term solution it is clear that something needs to be done and quickly to save the high street for future generations and to boost small business growth in a time of economic uncertainty. Is the future for Bromley high street bright? That’s up to you!