Rasen shops locked in a battle for survival

Empty shops in Market Rasen as businesses are closed and more are threatening to follow suit. EMN-171215-170251001
Empty shops in Market Rasen as businesses are closed and more are threatening to follow suit. EMN-171215-170251001

Business owners have warned that unless things change in Market Rasen, they may be forced to close.

The Rasen Mail visited three shops in Queen Street to find out how things are going ahead of Christmas.

The Ministry of Happiness, which has only been open in Rasen for 18 months, is threatening to shut up shop if things do not improve.

Owner Jennifer Bone, a Market Rasen town councillor, said sales on her website and Facebook far outweighed shop sales.

She said: “If Rasen continues to be as dead as it is, I will shut (the shop) down. This is because my internet sales far outweigh shop sales.”

Ms Bone has also seen a decline in the number of customers during the last 12 months.

She said: “I have noticed it is a lot quieter this year than last year.”

In contrast, her website and Facebook page has more than 1,000 likes from users.

Ms Bone explained the interest in the website and Facebook meant many customers were buying online as opposed to in person - a problem affecting many High Streets across the country.

Wold Antiques has been owned by Mike Walton and his wife for 13 years. Mr Walton told the Rasen Mail that he would hope for more customers in the build-up to Christmas, but that did not appear to be the case this year.

He said he had noticed a 50% decrease in takings compared to 10 years ago.

He told the Rasen Mail reporter that she had been the first person in the shop - five hours after it opened at 10am that morning.

Mr Walton said: “It is so disheartening, reason to be cheerful - none.”

Asked why he thought businesses were struggling, Mr Walton said: “The economy is bust, people have no money.”

Mr Walton also claimed West Lindsey District Council is favouring other towns over Rasen.

He said: “Rasen has suffered so much at the hands of Gainsborough. All trade has been put into Gainsborough at the cost of market towns.”

Darren Lince, owner of The Advocate Arms said however: “Business is going well with bookings slightly ahead of last year, but other traders tell me the High Street is very quiet.”

Bridget Pitman-Brand, who has been the owner of Market Rasen Pet Centre for 17 years, also said business had declined.

She said: “Business is slower than normal. I think more people are buying online.”

Meanwhile, Advocate Arms owner Darren Lince said there were several factors involved.

He said: “Online retailing is one of them, but WLDC have reduced the amount of visitors to the town with the introduction of parking charges, and whilst the two hours free parking will help, it takes time to get this message out to visitors who have vowed not to return. I hope in January that local businesses can come together with WLDC and devise a plan as to how Market Rasen can be promoted again to help to reverse any decline.”

The Rasen Mail contacted WLDC for a comment.