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‘Nothing to do with where they are from’ - Residents respond to warning over WH Smith closure

PUBLISHED: 14:44 27 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:54 27 April 2018

WHSmith store in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

WHSmith store in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

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People in Dereham have given their views on why the town’s WH Smith store has struggled to connect with the community.

Running the WHSmith store in Dereham are family members (from left) Chris, Maria, Phil and James Stow. Picture: Ian BurtRunning the WHSmith store in Dereham are family members (from left) Chris, Maria, Phil and James Stow. Picture: Ian Burt

The Stow family, who work at the store, warned that if people don’t start using it then they may have to close within six weeks.

Sales are falling each week and manager Phil Stow said he felt that this was partly due to residents avoiding the store because his family have moved to Norfolk from Kent and people tend to prefer shopping at local businesses.

However, residents have hit back at this claim and pointed out that they don’t shop there because there is no incentive for them to do so.

Dereham resident Nikki Lowings said the problem with the business “has nothing to do with them or whether they are from Norfolk” instead she says it is about pricing.

“The problem is with the pricing of WH Smith in comparison to other shops we have like Wilko, QD and Poundland.

“Unfortunately the family probably has no control over prices and I presume these are set by WH Smith. I wish the family a lot of luck as they are lovely people.”

Similarly, Paul Chapman, a resident of Reymerston who shops in Dereham, said: “Most of the commonly bought products on sale there can be bought more cheaply at several other locations in the town. Wilko, QD and Poundland sell stationery at a lower price, even if not always a better quality and there is a better stocked newsagent in the market place.”

Lack of stock is another issue highlighted by numerous residents, one resident who asked not to be named, said: “I don’t think it has anything to do with where they are from - you can’t tell that from outside anyway. But I, like many others, was looking forward to browsing shelves of novels and that just isn’t in there.”

An online poll conducted by this newspaper attracted almost 1,000 responses and the results show that 43pc of people do not visit due to the price of the products. Another 29pc responded saying that they were not even aware the store was on the high street.

Just 6pc said they prefer shopping at businesses operated by local people.

Mr Stow has acknowledged that prices in the store are higher than in some other shops but emphasised this is becasue they sell high quality products.

MORE: WH Smith in Dereham warns it could shut its doors within six weeks

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