POOLE'S high street is fast becoming a 'ghost town' – and the decline 'started when McDonald's closed its doors', say shoppers.

As reported, value store This Is It is the latest retailer to announce it will close its Poole town centre branch. The general purpose retailer, which took over the former Woolworths store site in 2010, is the latest casualty of the high street.

It comes as the town's branch of Game disappears from the high street, while in the Dolphin Centre, the Thorntons chocolate shop is to shut – adding another empty unit to the 12 already there.

Bournemouth Echo:

Pretzel Dog in the bus station has also closed after complaints that the rent charged by BCP Council was too expensive.

In Kingland Crescent, there are more empty shops than occupied units, with nine currently in use and 13 not.

There are also around 12 empty units in the High Street. The stretch has around 12 charity shops, four betting shops and around 12 cafes or coffee shops.

Now some residents say problems began when McDonald's closed in January 2017 after 34 years of trading.

It happened just weeks after Burger King’s lease ended in a unit further along the same high street.

One resident said the closure of McDonald's is a symptom of a failing shopping district.

"It's not a struggling business, but now it's not there any more. How can that be?" he said.

Bournemouth Echo:

Another said: "I'm afraid the fact is that, for shopping, Poole town centre has had its day."

Jeanette Heselden said the blame doesn't lie with McDonald's going, but instead 'high rents'.

"The council are ruining Poole. It looks like a ghost town and rents are too high," she said.

"Don’t blame McDonald’s for going. Most are franchised."

Phillip Morris said: "It's another nail in the coffin for Poole High Street.

"I thought This Is It was an amazing store with something for everyone.

"It won't be the last, more's the pity."

Bournemouth Echo:

BCP Council deputy leader and cabinet member for regeneration and culture Cllr Mark Howell said high streets "up and down the country" are "going through a transitional process, and nobody quite knows what the result will be".

John Grinnell, centre manager for the Dolphin Shopping Centre, said: “The closure of Thorntons is sad news, but we have been aware of it for some time, and they closed a number of stores throughout 2019.

“We are currently in discussions with several new retailers interested in opening at the Dolphin, have seen footfall increase from 2018 to 2019 – bucking the national trend – and are feeling very positive about the prospects for the centre in 2020.”

  • An earlier version of this story said Bennetts bakery had closed. This is not the case and we are happy to make this correction.