Debenhams closures: how independent stores can save high street shopping

All remaining Debenhams stores across the region are set to close with thousands of job losses.

The news comes after online retailer Boohoo bought its online business for £55million.

It means all stores, including those that have been around for years in Colchester, Bury St Edmunds and Norwich will disappear from the high street.

Debenhams stores will only reopen to clear stock, once lockdown restrictions are lifted. Credit: ITV Anglia

Norwich Bid, an organisation set up to support the local economy, said they hope buildings become 'mixed-use'.

Obviously that's a lot of job losses and unemployment and our hearts go out to all the people who've been affected by that. We'll be working with partners and interested parties to see what the opportunities are for redevelopment and we're hoping it will be some sort of mixed-use approach whether it's residential on the top or services and a little bit of retail and leisure on the bottom.

Norwich Bid

For decades Debenhams has been one of the big names on the high street but in recent years it faced growing competition from online retailers.

A picture from a Debenhams January sale, 1969 in Norwich Credit: ITV Anglia

Town and city centres everywhere know they have to evolve to keep up with the times.

In Thetford, they have appointed Hemingway Design to help. Wayne Hemingway told us independent stores are ready to fill the gaps that Debenhams leaves behind.

While the Debenhams of this world suffer, a lot of independent shops are doing more than keeping their head above the water because as a society we're choosing to shop there. We'll find that health and education come back into the town centres again because when you have people around they then spend money in the cafes and spend money in the shops.

Wayne Hemingway / Hemingway Design

Although this might be bad news for Debenhams, it seems that high street shopping will not be going anywhere.