Diss toy shop set to move due to lack of trade

A toy shop has become the latest business to join an exodus of retailers from a Norfolk town centre street, citing a lack of passing trade.

Toybox Toys has traded in St Nicholas Street, Diss for 16 years, but on Tuesday the shop will be reopening in a different location in the town in the former Threshers Wine Shop in Mere Street, opposite the busy Morrison and Tesco supermarkets.

Roy Minshull, the owner of Toybox Toys, said trade at his store, which sells toys, models and games, had steadily declined in recent years and the number of potential customers passing his shop had dwindled, but retailers at the Mere Street end of the town seemed to get more passing trade.

He added a survey conducted on behalf of Diss Town Council found that in the space of two hours, 400 people passed by where his new Mere Street premises would be, but St Nicholas Street could not attract 400 visitors in a day, so he decided to move and was due to close his current premises on Saturday.

Mr Minshull believed the arrival of the two supermarkets meant shoppers stayed at the Mere Street end of the town, a situation made worse by the retail giants' decision to start charging shoppers to park in their car parks after getting the first hour free, which meant many drivers did not want to venture far in case their free hour ran out.

'We kept hearing customers coming into our shop and saying 'quickly, we have got to get back the car park's running out. Then the opportunity came up for us to move to the other end of town and we decided to take it,' Mr Minshull said.

But he thought reversing the trend for shoppers to stay at the Mere Street end would be very difficult because the Morrison and Tesco stores were too convenient.

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'It is very difficult to change. People can say it is rents, it is rates, but it is actually attracting people back to that end of town that is the key and I think you are going to find that while you have got two large supermarkets at that end of town, it is very difficult to reverse that trend,' Mr Minshull added.

In April, Every Cloud, which sells silver jewellery, including bracelets, earrings and necklaces, also moved from St Nicholas Street to Mere Street, citing a lack of passing trade.

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