Chichester's South Street becoming 'wasteland' — coffee shops could be to blame

Chichester can be described as many things: picturesque, historic, charming. But following the recent departure of two prominent retailers, South Street has been described as a ‘little bit of a wasteland’ – and too many coffee shops could be to blame, one business has said

Women’s fashion outlet Chesca was the second retailer to leave the high street in the past month following South Street stalwart Russell and Bromley.

Orvis also closed its doors on July 31.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

ks190184-1 Chichester Streets phot kate...South Street, Chichester.ks190184-1

Now, the sales director of a former South Street retailer has warned the area is becoming a ‘little bit of a wasteland’ amid a number of shops shutting down in recent months.

Sally Williams, sales director at Chesca, said: “The cathedral did help us through the pandemic.

“Obviously with the set up back in March [2020] it was a very difficult time and nobody know how the high street would react or how consumer confidence would be, but [during the pandemic] the Chichester shop was doing really badly.”

Sally said the cathedral helped by giving the shop a rent reduction but the situation still meant that Chesca would have to leave South Street.

The company is looking at possible pop-up shops in the area and Sally said she believes there is already a ‘high street resurgence’.

“We feel quite confident going forward that there will be markets accessible to us,” she said.

She went on to warn that an influx of coffee shops is driving up rents and said South Street is becoming ‘a little bit of a wasteland’.

Sally added: “The high street cannot become a whole row of coffee shops.

“If you take away the interest of the high street, in the long term customers are going to go elsewhere and the quirky, independent little shops will go.

“I think that the agents have got to look at the bigger picture.

“You have to have thriving footfall, and to have footfall you have to have interest. To have interest you have got to have a mixture of choice. We need to keep it thriving.

“We saw the same thing happening in Marlow and it’s just because the coffee shops can afford the rent.”

A spokeperson for Chichester Cathedral said: "We are of course sad to see Chesca go.

"This has been a challenging period for many, and we have worked in partnership with all our tenants, taking a long-term view of the health of the businesses across our 11 premises, finding the flexibility that works for them. We wish all the best to those involved in the business."

Let us know your thoughts by emailing: [email protected]