A few years ago, when various people met round a table to discuss ambitious plans to put Camberley on the map, they couldn’t have foreseen that the completion of said plans would coincide with the worst time for the retail sector in living memory.
Apart from a couple of eating establishments in the final stages, Camberley 2.0 is now complete. We have a Vue cinema, a bowling alley, a Nandos, a Starbucks (yeah, now we’re on the map), a host of other eateries, and a new parade of shop units. Ah, the shop units… this is where it starts to go a bit wrong. So far, only four have been occupied – Laura Ashley, Next, a sports shop and Zavvi.
Next moved out of the Main Square mall and into a bigger brighter unit in the now pedestrianised Park Street. Good move I think. Zavvi, as we now know, are unfortunately under administration – so this leaves one of the occupied new units under threat. Zavvi also moved out of a unit in the Main Square mall. USC took one of the units vacated by either Next or Zavvi (can’t remember which), but they are also now under adminstration. JJB Sports are also in the Main Square mall and according to their web site they’re still there, but for how long? JJB, I think, are next to Adams Kids clothing (who are now under administration) and opposite The Officers’ Club (closed down). First Choice Holidays have already closed the Camberley branch, which was quite close to Woolworths (and we all know the story there).
I can understand Zavvi’s plight. Quite simply, they operate in the market which now seems to be best-served by Internet retailers such as Play and Amazon. That’s a factor that was no doubt part of Woolworth’s downfall.
Curiously, you’d think Game would be in the same boat. However, for the past two Saturdays the queue has stretched the entire length of the store, and not because they’re having a closing down cheapo clearout sale. They were very busy before Christmas so nice to see they’re bucking the trend. Maybe it’s because they have a loyalty points card scheme – that one factor could prompt customers to buy from them rather than an on-line competitor. Maybe it’s because (and this is a rare thing to say these days) they offer very good customer service and advice. Or maybe it’s because the thought of getting Guitar Hero World Tour delivered to your door (and having to wait in all day for a courier who will probably never arrive) is too miserable to contemplate.
Finally, just for a bit of fun, I’ve included (on the right) a picture of the artist’s impression of the interior of ‘The Atrium’ where the cinema, restaurants and bowling alley are situated. It doesn’t look exactly like this. The escalator is there, but you’d have to stand in the middle of the road to make it appear that far in the distance.