Business owners in Whitton believe that certain factors have led to the decline of its High Street after it was revealed that overall high street sales in Richmond are ten per cent below the national average.

Wandsworth Times:

Whitton has 16 charity shops on its High Street.

Richmond says that it works with its local business communities to help them get through the difficult period by delivering funding through its Town Centre Opportunities Fund however, funding does not appear to be Whitton High Street’s main issue.

An employee at Giselle Hairdressers in Whitton said: ““If one shop opens then two more close down and on top of that the rents are too expensive.”

“We have been here for 44 years, when we came there was a lot more control – you had ask the Council for planning permission if you wanted to convert a shop.

“There are 16 charity shops and the rest are food shops.”

And, a report published by the Charity Retail Association revealed that high street retail income by non-profit organisations increased by 5.1 per cent.

Faydon, Manager of Whitton Dry Cleaners added: “Business is going down because of dodgy people doing petty crimes.

“We have a lot of elderly people living here and they all go to the charity shops and I think we have too many charity shops.

“The council need to give licences so that the high street has restaurants we need pizza, burger and other fast food shops.”

According to the Charity Retail Association – charity shops make £554 per week on average and charitable superstores make at least £1,604 per week in sales.

Mandy works as a Shop Manager for Debra Charity Shop in Whitton High Street.

When asked whether she thought there were too many charity shops on the High Street, Mandy said: “I don’t think we are a problem as people come out for the day to use charity shops.

“But in all honesty, how many hairdressers and vape stores do we need?

“There is also a lot of theft - we have a high street WhatsApp group which I had to turn it off because the amount of theft is rife.”

And the increase of charity shops along the high street is not affecting new businesses either.

Jane, owner of The Cavan Bakery said: “I’m a small independent business and I compete against Greggs so I wouldn’t say Whitton is dying.

“The high streets quiet steady even though it’s quite a strange high street because we have a lot of charities and could do with local butchers to bring in more trade.

“Also - The jewellers almost got robbed last week, that wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t a busy high street.”

When asked to share his views on whether Whitton High Street was in decline, Cllr Geoff Acton – the Lead Member for Business disagreed.

Instead he replied by saying: “Over the last decade Whitton high street has seen a lot of investment, including improvements to the pavements and shop fronts.

“All shops on the High Street are owned by private management companies, and the Council cannot dictate or control which businesses open outside of planning controls.

“Any property owner wishing to change their businesses use from a shop to a restaurant can do so by applying through the legal planning process.

“With regards to Business Rates, these are not set by the Council – but by the Government.

“The Council actively lobbies the Government for a change in the way that Business Rates money is decided, collected and disseminated, to ensure that it is fairer on local businesses.

“The Council continues to await concrete proposals from Government”