Goldings of Bedford, a hardware store that has been on the High Street for over 150 years, is to close, with owners blaming lack of footfall.
An announcement on their Facebook page broke the news, with the team at the store saying they were “devastated and sad” at the closure of the store which opened in 1867.
The statement continued saying that “footfall on the High Street is now pretty much non-existent.”
Christina Rowe, of Love Bedford, who collate footfall data in the town centre, said that although footfall in the first quarter of 2019 was lower than 2018, this needed to be viewed in the context of the closure of M&S, the wettest June on record and various roadworks.
She said: “During the first quarter of 2019, year on year foot flow was trending lower than last year on average during the week.
“Weekends however, are trending better than 2018 with Saturdays fairly consistent whilst Sundays have begun to outperform 2018.
More recently, the town has benefited from the warmer weather with increases of over 19% week on week vs. the High Street index of 7.4% and the UK 7.7%.”
The owners say that throughout its history, whoever has been in charge has tried to keep the store relevant through events like the Boer War, WW1, and The Great Depression.
But, they say, multi-national chains with cheaper products and online retail has made it impossible to continue.
“…we’ve held on for as long as we can. The reality is, however, we just cannot sustain our product lines and our service for so few customers,” said the statement.
The team thanked all their customers for their continued support, asking them to “come in and see us,” adding “you will be helping an iconic Bedford business sail off into the sunset.”
Christina Rowe from Love Bedford said: “It is a sad time for Goldings but there are new businesses opening in Bedford town centre. During 2018/19, of the 79 who opened c20% were relocations/upsizing.
“We are due to welcome another range of businesses this month including four on High Street to add to Bedford’s range of independently owned businesses which is higher than both region and nationally.”
Cllr Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Town Centres and Planning said: “I have known Goldings my whole life; growing up in Bedford I remember rushing to the back of the shop as a small child to look at the models; this is really sad news.
“The owners are absolutely right to identify the challenges facing town centres and high streets across the country with out-of-town and online shopping changing the face of retail as we know it.
“Alongside the Council’s free parking offer, the Council continues to work with Bedford BID, Explore Bedford and other community partners and businesses to look for new, innovative ways to support our town centre and the array of fantastic independent and other shops we have.
“We are looking to every possible lever we legally have as a Council to support the high streets of the Borough and this includes bidding for national support through the Future High Street Fund. We will also be redeveloping the High Street and St Paul’s, reducing traffic and creating more space for shoppers, investing in our historic town centre.”
We have contacted Goldings for further comment.
This story was updated from an earlier version on 8 July at 4:27pm
to included a quote from Bedford Borough Council.