Grangemouth shoppers were dealt a double body blow earlier this year, but defiant traders say the town centre is still standing.
The plight of the town, which has been waiting for regeneration for almost a decade, really hit home when long-established baker Mathiesons closed its shop in February and then Tesco made good on the closure announcement it made in January and shut up shop in Talbot Street last weekend.
And now it looks like WH Smith will be closing its doors in September after reports surfaced the firm was not going to renew its lease in Grangemouth.
Despite this, the mood in the town seems to be business as usual.
A shopkeeper said: “If we are busy putting a bad light on the town, it takes away from what is actually here for people.
“It would help if someone moved into the Tesco store, but we want people to know there are still a lot of shops with a lot to offer in Grangemouth.”
People seem to think Tesco closing is the end of the town, but it’s not
Another trader said: “There are people who rely on Grangemouth town centre and the shops here. A lot of people don’t realise you can still get all your bits and pieces here.
“Yes, Tesco is shut, but we still have Iceland and Farmfoods, a fishmonger and all the shops people need. People seem to think Tesco closing is the end of the town, but it’s not.”
Back in 2011 The Falkirk Herald reported shopkeepers were being forced to tap into their savings to keep their businesses afloat.
Just after Tesco announced it was pulling out of the town and Mathiesons closed down this February, some traders admitted they were not paying themselves a wage in order to keep their shops open.
However, things appear to be looking up according to Councillor Allyson Black.
She said: “Council officers told me there are three or four businesses which have shown an interest in moving into the former Mathiesons premises, although they wouldn’t give any names due to commercial issues.”
Aldi and Lidl have reportedly expressed an interest in the vacant building and both traders and shoppers hope a deal with either of these firms can be reached soon.
Councillor Black said: “Older people struggle to get to Asda and relied on Tesco and Mathiesons being so close together. They got into a routine and we need to re-establish this for them as soon as possible.
“The retailers in the town feel stronglythat if we don’t get shops in these buildings then more and more people are going to stop coming to Grangemouth town centre.
“If we don’t support our shops, they are not going to be here for long - shops close because people don’t use them.”
Douglas Duff, head of Falkirk Council’s economic development and environmental services said: “We are currently updating our town centre regeneration strategy including options for Grangemouth.
“We always urge people to shop local and, working with Falkirk Towns Ltd, there will be a number of events and activities held this year to promote Grangemouth town centre.
“Support and training is also available to local retailers in social media and retailing skills and this can help generate custom.”