‘The town needs to start over again’: retail expert says Tesco won’t be last to go

Professor Joshua Bamfield (inset) says Tesco leaving London North Road in Lowestoft is not a shock.

Professor Joshua Bamfield (inset) says Tesco leaving London North Road in Lowestoft is not a shock. Picture: The Centre for Retail Research/Archant - Credit: The Centre for Retail Research/Archant

More big name brands will be pulling out of East Anglian market towns – Tesco leaving Lowestoft is just the first, a retail analyst has said.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, direct of the Centre for Retail Research, has said the news that the super brand is leaving the Suffolk town is neither a surprising nor isolated event.

"I suspect that Tesco has closed this store because it is not operating at a profit, but at a loss," Prossor Bamfield said.

MORE: 'This town is dead': Shock as town centre Tesco to close"Shops like this, a Tesco Metro, rely on people popping in and buying a few items while they're out doing the shopping. It works in places like Norwich at the Guildhall because people will pop in while in town.

"But in Lowestoft there aren't enough reasons to go into the centre of town, and you simply can't run a shop on people buying bits and bobs when there aren't enough people coming in to make those purchases."

Professor Bamfield said he believes that this will be an issue across market towns in Norfolk and Suffolk, which will also be struggling with lower footfall as the high street shuts up shop.

"I think we will see more big name brands like this leaving the region," said Professor Bamfield, who leads the Rose Lane research centre.

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The industry expert has recently visited Lowestoft, and said: "Lowestoft needs to start over again. It needs to pick a new high street with better footfall, because when Tesco opened in that spot it probably had very different passing traffic than it does now.

"There are big superstores in retail parks on the centre of town, and I think new businesses looking to open should consider this."

He continued that nearby Bungay was offering a more sustainable retail experience: "You've got antique shops that are still operating well, you've got health shops and artists studios - it's just a bit different. Yes, there are some boarded-up pubs, but there are some that are open and seem to be working well," he said.

"I think two or three years ago the independents thought they were doing alright for surviving and that it would never get bad enough for the big brands to close stores - but I think there's a way to go before we see the high street recover," he concluded.