The Thorntons chocolate shop in St John’s Shopping Centre, Preston closes down.
Yet another high street victim of the prolonged economic downturn. Cash-strapped consumers are sacrificing their sweet-toothed cravings in favour of essentials.
A recent visit found it very busy with shoppers looking for last minute bargains in the final week before Christmas. There are discounts of up to 50% and several promotions.
An upmarket brand name, built over decades, Thorntons used to be the first place to visit for that special chocolate treat or gift. Hit by competition from the Internet, Hotel Chocolat stores and Supermarket own brands together with steep discounting of its chocolate sold in supermarkets, Thorntons have had a tough time recently.
It was announced in 2011 that the 100-year-old company planned to close 180 of its 579 stores over the coming years, mostly when leases expire.
Sales from its franchises were down around one-quarter to £2m this year, impacted by the collapse of Clinton Cards, one of its main franchisee partners, in May. However, a 10% increase in sales to supermarkets and other retailers kept total group revenues in the quarter relatively flat.
Thorntons still have a presence in Preston at Asda supermarket in Fulwood and Fishergate Walk in the city centre.
What do you think about closure of shops in Preston? Are you buying less chocolate due to the economic downturn? Let us know in the comments below.