Portsmouth shops defend leaving lights on overnight as campaigner says 'no brainer' to switch off

ENVIRONMENTAL groups in the city are calling on businesses to turn off their lights late at night.

By Richard Lemmer
Monday, 19th April 2021, 2:53 pm

More than a dozen shops across the city’s shopping districts were found to have active in-store lighting past 8pm last month – when non-essential retail was closed due to the national lockdown.

Vacant retail units previously occupied by Topman, Burton, and Debenhams in Commercial Road were among those with lights on late into the evening during lockdown.

Businesses with in-store lighting left on past 10pm in the shopping street included Santander, Greggs, Argos, Schuh, Wilko, and PureGym – as well as the Cascades shopping centre.

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The site of the former Debenhams store in Commercial Road, photographed at 10.20pm on March 25. Picture: Richard Lemmer

Within Gunwharf Quays, Yankee Candle and Adidas were seen with in-store lighting left on past 9.30pm.

Turning off in-store lighting when stores were closed during lockdown should be been a ‘no-brainer’ according to Rachel Hudson, a coordinator from Portsmouth Friends of the Earth.

She said: ‘I’m really, really surprised so many lights are left on.

‘It is an issue that needs to be raised.

The Argos branch in Commerical Road, photographed at 10.20pm on March 25. Picture: Richard Lemmer

‘The more we can do to reduce our carbon emissions the better – it starts with small steps, and the small things add up.’

Lighting accounts for five per cent of the world’s carbon emissions, according to international environmental charity The Climate Group.

Online retailers Boohoo and Asos took over former Arcadia brands Burton and Topman respectively in February, shuttering stores across the country, including branches in Commercial Road.

Administrator Deloitte said its store teams ‘were asked to turn all lights off in stores when they were vacated’ and that the keys to the Commercial Road retail units have now been passed back to the landlords.

The Greggs branch in 240 Commercial Road, photographed at 10.20pm on March 25. Picture: Richard Lemmer

The News contacted the company dealing with enquiries relating to the closing of Debenhams.

Other businesses that responded to enquiries listed security concerns and safety during stock replenishment as reasons for their lights being left on.

But not every shop opts to have some lighting on past usual opening hours, with Primark, H&M, Boots, and Specsavers in Commercial Road remaining dark past 8pm.

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The PureGym branch off Commerical Road in Arundel Street, photographed at 10.20pm on March 25. Picture: Richard Lemmer

It comes as Portsmouth City Council looks to install low-energy LED lighting across 71 council-owned buildings, as part of £1.9 million project to make schools, libraries, care homes, and officers more environmentally friendly.

In 2018, the council began to replace more than 15,000 street lights with energy efficient LED lights, reducing energy usage by 40 per cent and saving around £400,000 of every year.

Both Nationwide and Santander are now carbon neutral, with Adidas aiming to achieve this goal by 2025.

The News approached Schuh, PureGym, Greggs, and the Cascades for comment.

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The Three branch in Commerical Road, photographed at 10.20pm on March 25. Picture: Richard Lemmer.

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The Schuh shoe store in Commercial Road, photographed at 10.20pm on March 25. Picture: Richard Lemmer
The Commercial Road branch of Santander photographed at 10.20pm on March 25. Picture: Richard Lemmer