Newcastle town centre is dying, says boutique shop owner
BOUTIQUE shop owner Karen Shaw is to close her town centre business after 16-and-a-half years trading.
The 38-year-old is currently selling off her stock and even the shop fittings in a closing down sale at Galerie, in Newcastle.
She is blaming her decision on Newcastle's parking charges, the rise of online shopping and the popularity of out-of-town retail parks.
Karen even tried to persuade Newcastle Borough Council to lower its parking charges.
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But her pleas were rejected – despite councillors agreeing to freeze parking charges this year.
Karen, of Stone, said: "I opened Galerie in 1996 when I was 22 and built it up from scratch.
"It's really sad that I'm closing and leaving Newcastle but I'm ready to move on from the town because I don't feel as though it will turn its fortunes around.
"I contacted the council over the parking after noticing how much cheaper it was to park in some other areas. But I was told the council wouldn't consider lowering its parking charges, bringing in free days or adjusting the hours.
"People's retail habits have changed and eventually we will find that there will be very few small town centres left and all we will have left is retail parks and malls. That will mean that the cafes won't survive as there will be no shoppers going for lunch or coffees. It will have a knock-on effect.
"I am looking around for somewhere else to open up but it has to be right. Eccleshall has a good range of independent retailers in the high street and a positive vibe or Shrewsbury has a nice balance of shops and a park and ride."
The decision to close Galerie comes just days after Stoke City shut their Newcastle shop in the town's Roebuck Centre. Club officials also blamed the rise of online shopping for the decision.
Fellow trader Magdalena Jermakow, aged 33, of Longport, who owns the Studio Effect beauty salon, in Newcastle, said: "There have been a lot of shops closing around here.
"It's very hard to sustain a business in the town centre. The high parking charges stop people coming into town and the parking situation is bad for everyone.
"It's definitely worrying that less and less people are coming into town."
Shoppers have also raised concerns over the parking charges.
Mark Smith, aged 68, of Newcastle, said: "The parking charges put people off from coming into town.
"A lot of shops have shut in the town and I've heard there are a few more closing as well. Soon, there will be no shops left in the town centre except for charity shops."
James Tildersley, aged 22, of Longton, said: "I work in the town and parking really is a problem. A lot of people who I work with park in the estates because it costs so much for us to park here."
Parking charges in Newcastle range from 70p for up to 30 minutes to £4.25 for up to four hours.
Galerie's closing down sale will run for the next few days. For updates, visit www.facebook.com/galeriewoman.