Impact of pandemic causes Rochdale shopping centre to close

The Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre in Rochdale is to close as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The shopping centre’s bosses today confirmed it will close on December 2, the Manchester Evening News reported, at the end of the second lockdown.

Non-essential shops that have already shut will not reopen, while essential businesses currently open in the two-floor centre on Baillie Street will close in less than two weeks.

All staff and tenants have been told about the ‘difficult decision’ to close the centre.

Owners MCR Property Group bought the complex in 2017 and said they hoped to ‘attract fresh leisure, commercial and new retail operators to complement the existing occupiers’.

But a ‘nationwide shift in shopping habits’ means people have stopped shopping in town centres, bosses said.

The coronavirus pandemic has ‘expedited this migration from traditional shopping habits and the impacts on the retail sector have been significant’, they added.

The centre, which houses local stores such as Fizz Bomb and Russell’s Cafe, has lost a number of key tenants since 2017 including Wilko’s, Ryman’s and New Look.

New Look and Select are in company voluntary arrangements and Peacocks has also collapsed into administation. 

Since the centre reopened after the first lockdown in June, footfall has been down 45 per cent year-on-year.

Charles Denby at MCR Property Group, said: “Nationwide we continue to see a large number of retailers experiencing serious trading difficulties, and more are resorting to insolvency procedures to cut their rent bills.

“This year has been a surreal, once in a generation experience that will not be forgotten, with COVID directly accelerating the decline of high street retail and the move to online. 

“When the change in shopping habits collides with reduced income, an excess of space, and cost structures that are simply no longer realistic, landlords have to take action.

“We understand the impact the closure of the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre will have on our tenants and will assist where possible through this difficult time.”

Business Live – North West

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