Lack of footfall paves way to shoe shop’s closure

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Shoe shop boss Sam Winters says his discount business has lost its tread in Oban because of lack of footfall.

Sam Winters says The Footwear Department Discount Centre in John Street must close  because it is not making money. In the past three years of trading, it has lost £100,000 in takings.

He says the store, an institution in the town for more than 35 years under different owners, is no longer attracting customers and the spenders who are crossing its threshold are still wanting prices from two decades ago, despite huge reductions.

Hull-based Mr Winters, who took over the business a few years ago, said:  ‘People are not coming in to support us. I don’t know why. The shop is just not performing. We can’t even have A-boards down on the main street anymore so that’s not helped bring more people to our door.

‘This part of town is just a ghost town. Retail in general is suffering all over but we’ve really felt it here. I’ve got 5,000 pairs of shoes that have to go before we close.’

He said the Oban shop employs three staff. Mr Winters was visiting the store this week to discuss employees’ future.

‘There’s no awkwardness. The girls know the situation,’ he said.

Discount shoe centre staff Cathey Buchanan and Mary MacEachen with business director Sam Winters.

Two of its workers, Cathey Buchanan and Mary MacEachen, have worked there for 34 years between them.

Mrs MacEachen aid: ‘It will be a sad day when it shuts. I’ve got used to coming up and down this little lane to work. I’ll miss it.’

The shop, which sells big brands, will close in six weeks.

BID4Oban chief executive Andrew Spence added: ‘Sorry to see this shop closing at a time when Oban has attracted many new businesses over the past 12 months.’

In the past year, Oban has  seen the arrival of its M&S Foodhall, well-known brand FatFace and top-range clothing and footwear store MacIntyre’s ave moved into George Street, as has eaterie Gelato Burger and The Highland Soap Company. On the edge of town, finishing touches are being put to a new Screwfix outlet.