RETAIL in Fareham may have turned a corner as new shops begin to open, according to a council leader.
As a number of new stores open up in the borough, leader of Fareham Borough Council Cllr Sean Woodward has praised the town for its unique shopping experience, thanks to the hard work of independent traders in an evolving market.
The news comes as plus-size retailer Yours Clothing opens its doors in Fareham Shopping Centre today, and after new independent retailer Solent Shoes officially opened in Portchester last weekend.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘It is certainly good news.
‘One swallow doesn’t make a whole summer but it’s a big improvement and I’m pleased to see the new offers and the sorts of shops that are opening.
‘We have got a very good quality shopping centre and a lot of independent traders, both in West Street and further afield.
‘The high street is changing with a move towards ‘coffee shop culture’ and people tend to do a lot more shopping online – but there is clearly still room for traditional shops to thrive in Fareham and I wish the new stores all the best.’
One of those new stores, Solent Shoes, opened in Castle Street, Portchester, on Saturday, September 1.
Solent Shoes is the culmination of change of career direction for owner Amanda Kent who gave up her job in finance to undertake a course with the Society of Shoe Fitters.
Amanda said: ‘With today’s shop launch it feels quite surreal at the moment. I gave up my job a year ago to follow my dream and now it has come to fruition.’
In addition to providing a wide range of high quality shoes Amanda is also hoping to help educate customers on the importance of correctly fitted footwear.
‘Footwear is the only aspect of clothing which can potentially damage your health. It has been proven that incorrect footwear can lead to long term health conditions. Ill fitting shoes can lead to problems such as corns, callouses, blisters and bunions. Ensuring people have the right footwear is also particularly important for people suffering from arthritis or diabetes,’ explained Amanda.
Since the previous shoe shop, Spencer and Penn, closed down there has been no outlet in Portchester for shoes.
‘The key focus of Solent Shoes is to provide footwear which is fashionable yet a comfortable fit. All the shoes we sell are made from good quality breathable material,’ explained Amanda.
Opening the shop was chairperson of the Portchester Community Association, Hazel Powlesland, who believes the shop will particularly appeal to the older demographic in the area.
‘There is definitely a market here where there are a lot of people from an older generation and I will certainly be shopping here. As you get older you can get all sorts of foot problems, some of which I have suffered from myself. It is important to purchase good quality fitted shoes,’ explained Ms Powlesland.