McDonald's and Primark among replacement ideas as Littlehampton residents and councils react to closures of restaurant and fashion retailer

Littlehampton’s council has reassured residents that the town ‘continues to attract investment’ after two long-standing businesses announced their closures.

Fast-food restaurant Wimpy, which was based in Surrey Street, closed for the final time earlier this month.

Meanwhile, fashion retailer M&Co's High Street branch will serve customers for the final time on Saturday, July 9. Click here to find out why the two businesses have closed.

High streets ‘will look very different’

Littlehampton Town Centre. Photo by Derek Martin Photography

In a statement, Arun District Council that ‘whilst it is sad’ to lose long-established businesses and the local jobs that go with those, it is ‘important to acknowledge’ that retail trends are changing and it is likely that all high streets ‘will look very different in the years to come’.

A spokesperson added: “The current national UK retail vacancy rate stands at around 14 per cent. The rate for Littlehampton is currently around 12 per cent and demand for retail space continues.

“Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm Improvements are underway as part of a multi-million-pound project to make the town centre a more attractive place to visit, shop and enjoy for residents and visitors.

"This regeneration also aims to attract private sector investment and transform the town centre to meet changing shopping and leisure habits.

Wimpy has said it hopes the much-loved burger chain will be able return to the town at some stage in the future.

"The Arcade has also recently been privately purchased and significant funds are being invested into refurbishment of those units where we understand demand is significant.”

‘Considerable investment is currently underway’

Littlehampton Town Council said it was ‘disappointed to lose two long-standing businesses’.

“However, Littlehampton has a below average vacancy rate in commercial premises,” a spokesperson said.

A closing down sale is ongoing at M&Co in Littlehampton's High Street, which will close on July 9.

"Our vibrant town continues to attract investment with new businesses opening in recent months.

"Considerable investment is currently underway which will dramatically improve the visitor experience.

"We hope that this combined with a range of entertainment and activities planned for the year, will encourage more visitors and investors to complement the existing rich mix of businesses.”

How have Littlehampton residents reacted?

Following the news of Wimpy and M&Co’s closures, Littlehampton Gazette readers have been having their say about how it will affect footfall in the town centre – and what can be done to improve the situation.

One of the Facebook commenters was Kevin Short, who suggested that McDonald’s and Primark should open in the town centre.

He said: “Those two stores will bring more foot traffic to the town as people love primarni and eating burgers.”

Brian Haran said he ‘fervently hopes’ that the current regeneration project can help #kick start a revival in our town's fortunes’.

Richard Warry agreed that ‘there needs to be some radical thinking’.

He added: “High street retail faces an existential crisis, which can’t be solved without significant changes to the way local authorities support local businesses.

“Paving stones are nice, but nowhere near enough.”

Ann Wood wrote: “So sad to see Wimpy go, lovely food and staff.”

Mick Gisbey fears that Littlehampton town centre is becoming ‘a poor place to shop’.

Stephanie Hodder also worried that there will be ‘soon be nothing there’.

Shirley Mackay claimed that it is a ‘waste of time doing all the new paving’ in Littlehampton, as it is becoming a ‘ghost town’.