WITH trends showing more and more consumers moving to online retailers, we asked people in Bournemouth town centre and at Castlepoint what draws them to do their shopping in town.

Sam Boshier, 33, from Ferndown said: “To be honest I rarely visit Bournemouth town centre these days, but if I do, it’s for the department stores and mainly for clothes shopping.

“I want to get value for money and there is generally a perception that you can always buy cheaper online. To combat online shopping competition, I think retailers must offer competitive pricing, a good choice, and comfortable, spacious fitting rooms.

“Bournemouth is getting a run-down feeling, and it would be nice to see more investment including more things to do in the town centre, and places to eat and drink. Personally I find the parking costs prohibitive. On a recent visit I was shocked how much the parking charges had risen.”

For Lisa Lee, 45, from Christchurch, her feelings about shopping in town were mixed. “We love coming into the new cinema complex and the range of eateries it offers, and still pop into town for clothes shopping, gadget shopping and home shopping.

“It’s sad to see the demise of retail in Bournemouth with so many empty shops and some areas that are becoming very run down. Both of my grandmothers had shops in the Triangle area, which at one time was thriving. We recently walked along Westover Road and were shocked by how many homeless people we saw in doorways, it all felt a bit down at heel.

“If the town is ever going to thrive or attract shoppers back, I think there needs to be a wider range of brands, plus something to bring the town back together, such as a flagship John Lewis store in the Square. Everything is too far apart and fragmented.

“We like shopping in West Quay and Gun Wharf, plus on a recent trip to Exeter we were really impressed with Princess Hay, an excellent choice of shops all under cover.”

Ieva Barauskaite, 29, from Boscombe, visits Bournemouth town centre both for shopping and socialising with friends.

She said: “I tend to visit shops for something specific such as Vision Express for an eye test or to shop in Debenhams.

“I do a lot of online shopping and tend to use the town more for going out. I also go to Castlepoint because some of the stores are a lot bigger with more choice such as Next and M&S, plus there’s free parking.

“I’ve noticed big changes in Bournemouth, lots of closing down signs or empty shops with piles of post inside. It’s very sad.”

Amber Lee, 15, from Christchurch, was visiting Bournemouth town centre with friends. She was the most positive about her shopping experience.

Amber said: “I really enjoy coming into Bournemouth with my friends, we like to look around the shops and then get something to eat. In the winter we come to the ice-skating rink, but we always combine it with shopping.

“I come with boys and girls, and the boys also like going around the shops, although they might choose different stores. Not many of my friends shop online, we like to come and browse and look around for ideas and inspiration. For clothes shopping I like H&M, but we also go into Boots, Superdrug and HMV.

“We’ve usually spent money on our bus fare, so we stay in town for a while to make the most of it. If there are plenty of different shops and restaurants, I can’t see us not wanting to visit.”

At Castlepoint shoppers were unanimous that free parking was one of the ‘selling points’ of the out-of-town centre.

Michael Parris, 42 from Throop, said: “We’ve recently purchased a new car and at Castlepoint they have PHVE electric points that are free, so we can plug in and charge the car while we shop. However, there are only two, which are very much in demand, so more are needed.

“Castlepoint could also do with more bistro, café type venues. There are coffee shops but limited choice if you want to stay for lunch. We rarely visit the town centre. We did go to the Winter Wonderland, which was impressive, but we were shocked how many people were begging for money. It gives the wrong impression.”

Sarah Parris, 37, from Throop said, “Castlepoint is attractive due to having free parking and a variety of shops in close proximity. It would be even better if it was completely under cover, but that’s not a deal breaker. I used to shop in Bournemouth more, but on recent visits I have been surprised about how seedy and run down it is becoming. Other places such as Bath seem have kept their standards up, generally cleaner, more independent stores and a nice cultural mix. It’s sad to say, but Bournemouth is going massively downhill.”

Debbie Few, 59, from Bransgore said something drastic needed to be done to make the town centre more attractive. “The town centre needs a major overhaul, something really impressive such as a massive covered area with a major name like John Lewis to attract shoppers back. Empty units, rough sleepers and a general run-down feeling put me off, plus the cost of parking.

“Castlepoint has most of what I need for clothes, gifts and occasionally food shopping, but it would be nice to see a few different shops such as Mint Velvet or Phase Eight to add to the mix.

“We sometimes shop in West Quay Southampton and Gun Wharf Quays both of which have a good choice of shops and places to eat. For a small town, Ringwood also has a lot to offer.”