Businesses in Honiton are ‘seriously considering their future’ amid pressures facing Britain’s high streets

Chairman of the Honiton Chamber of Commerce Tony McCollum says residents need to decide what sort of

Chairman of the Honiton Chamber of Commerce Tony McCollum says residents need to decide what sort of high street they want in five years' time. Ref mhh 31-16SH 4803. Picture: Simon Horn. - Credit: Archant

Businesses in Honiton could shut up shop amid increasing pressures being placed on Britain’s struggling high streets.

Tony McCollum, chair of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce, revealed that some businesses in Honiton are ‘seriously considering their futures’.

It comes as Mr McCollum challenges residents in Honiton to determine what kind of town they want in the future.

He said: “The people of Honiton need to decide what sort of town they want in five years and act now to ensure it that happens.

“The town needs businesses and income, and the businesses need your support.

“Look for the businesses that are displaying the chamber membership sign and shop in the knowledge that they are helping to support Honiton.”

Mr McCollum has cited the increasing allure of internet shopping as the main reason independent shops are struggling to profit on the high street.

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He added: “Hopping on the internet is having a great effect on independent businesses, but do you ever look for your purchase locally first and then consider the benefits this will bring?

“Internet traders do not pay rates toward the town and district, nor do they employ people in and around Honiton.

“On the contrary, the main employment they support are delivery drivers on minimum wage and zero-hours contracts which has attracted much employment legislation controversy in recent months.

“Many of the sales via the internet are done to avoid tax which has a serious effect on the whole UK infrastructure support.

“The closure of any business in Honiton has several effects, primarily the loss of facility and employment - the loss of income and thus customer base.

“The knock-on effect being the more vacant businesses the less attractive Honiton becomes to shoppers and visitors and the ensuing loss of footfall could lead to further closures.”

Mr McCollum also expressed his sorrow over the anticipated closure of Honiton Toy Shop after 32 years.

He said: “The closure will be a great loss.

“Unlike some major national chains around the region who have closed with a loss of facilities and employment at the first sign of a down turn in trade, the toy shop has remained loyal to Honiton through one of the country’s worst-ever recessions.”