Although independent traders were fearing the worst this Christmas following the closure of Knight & Lee in Palmerston Road, a number of retailers found that the departure of the much-loved department store has actually given their sales a boost, as shoppers begin to explore independent shops.
“We’ve been Increasingly busy with new customers discovering our jewellery boutique and seeing our workshop in action. We’ve also added a ‘Vintage shelf’ to recapture the thrill of browsing the Knight & Lee second-hand jewellery cabinet,” said Charlotte Cornelius.
While, Helen Steenhuis of The White Dog Gallery said, “Although I would still rather Knight & Lee existed, we certainly noticed an uplift in sales this Christmas”. Design House Southsea, have seen a 25% increase in sales of sofas, along with other furnishings towards the end of 2019. “I felt there were less shoppers on the high street this year, but people were prepared to spend more, and once the election was over, we were extremely busy,” reported Linzi Kelly of Southsea Rock.
“Knight & Lee was undeniably a very convenient way to shop, but now that it’s gone, along with Debenhams, shoppers arebeing more imaginative about finding other outlets and people seemed pleasantly surprised at the huge variety of cards and gifts we stock,” said Linzi.
Tristan Savage of Strong Island Clothing Co. said, “I never quite believed the
headlines about UK high streets dying because shoppers are really getting into shopping with independent shops. We sell online too, but we sell more in the shop because people prefer the experience”.
What’s in store?
So what about the regeneration of Knight & Lee by the THAT Group? The plans feature co-work office space, retail units, bike hire, event spaces, including a rooftop bar and terrace, and hotel accommodation.
Subject to planning approval, work is expected to start early this year. https://thatgroup-southsea.co.uk see p. 42.
“With the new developments in the Palmerston Road area, then the 2020s could be a very positive decade for retail,” concluded Charlotte Cornelius.
Here are some ideas of where to find local alternatives to Knight & Lee — let us know if you have any more suggestions.