Woolworths Bury St Edmunds
Woolworths Bury St Edmunds opened in Cornhill on 23 June 1928, Bury’s Woolworths was extended in 1937 and 1964 but seems to have avoided any downsizing over its 80-year lifetime, finally pulling the shutters down on 27 December 2008. The former Woolworths store in Bury St Edmunds has managed to remain at the retail heart of this lovely historic town after closing.
WoolworthsDespite the Arc development having introduced significant new retail space (including a Debenhams) into the town in March 2009, all the 14,390 sq ft of subdivided space in the former Woolworths was let by the end of 2010, with Poundland and Sports Direct taking the Cornhill-facing units and Tesco Express trading from St Andrew’s Street at the rear.
The US-founded store, which opened its first UK branch in 1909, selling goods ranging from hardware to boiled sweets, records to toys, was a fixture until the company entered administration. All 807 stores held clearance sales, with the last branch, in Glasgow’s Argyle Street, closing in January 2009. Around 30,000 people lost their jobs.
Woolworths – nicknamed Woolies and known for its Pick ‘n’ Mix self-service sweet counters – suffered from increasing competition.
Woolworths staff in Bury St Edmunds around 1960
“The High Street has always changed rapidly,” says Neil Wrigley, professor of human geography at Southampton University. “In recent years it’s had competition from online retailers, which had almost no market share before the year 2000. And there’s been a movement towards more services, such as coffee shops.” There was a very difficult period from 2008 to 2012, but that seems to have ended, he adds.
There have been several reports of a planned revival of Woolworths in the UK, but these have come to nothing.