Sidmouth's Oxfam shop to close after 30 years

PUBLISHED: 16:16 10 February 2016 | UPDATED: 13:51 11 February 2016

Oxfam manager Andrew Pinney

Oxfam manager Andrew Pinney

Archant

Changing shopping habits blamed for demise of town's first charity shop

Sidmouth’s first charity shop is to shut next month after more than 30 years, with changing shopping habits blamed for its closure.

Oxfam store manager Andrew Pinney said Temple Street was once bustling - with a greengrocer’s, butcher’s, cafés and clothing stores all serving customers.

But with the arrival of supermarkets and online shopping, several premises have been converted into homes, the road is no longer the centre it once was and trade has been hit.

“Oxfam has been at these premises for 30 or 40 years,” said Mr Pinney. “Shopping in Sidmouth was completely different then – there was no Lidl, no Waitrose, you just had a couple of tiny supermarkets along Temple Street.

“Shopping habits have changed and all the businesses have gone out of business. You used to be able to pick up everything by foot locally. This was a great place for the shop - it isn’t the place to be any more.

He said the closure of Temple Street had halved the shop’s takings and number of donations compared to last year’s figures - and the impact would have been worse if it was staying open.

“If we were planning on staying, this [the road closure] would have hit us considerably,” said Mr Pinney.

Oxfam currently has no plans to relocate in Sidmouth, so its nearest shop will be in Budleigh Salterton.

Chartered surveyor Richard Heard, who has been asked to look at the Oxfam shop, said: “It’s the way of most neighbourhoods. Parking isn’t terribly good and neither is visibility coming out. Traffic flow is constant and heavy and the pavements are very narrow. Young families are far more nervous about pushing pushchairs – they would rather get in their cars and drive to the supermarket. I suspect that’s the way it will continue to go.”

He said he suspected that the conversion of Temple Street’s shops into houses and offices will continue – and artificial means such as refusing planning permission would not slow the decline.

In contrast, Mr Heard said Woolbrook has the draw of Lidl and the benefit of free parking.

Temple Street’s Oxfam shop is due to close on March 18. It will be preceded by a stock clearance sale with big discounts.

What shops do you remember in Temple Street? Email sidmouth.letters@archant.co.uk

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