Croydon’s retail profile has had a tough time in recent years.
The city centre was hit hard by the 2011 riots, with the devastating fire at the 145-year-old furniture store House of Reeves emerging as one of the most memorable and poignant images. One year later, 150-year-old department store Allders, whose flagship stood in the centre of the town, fell into administration. Combine that with sparkling new shopping destinations popping up all over London and Croydon has been on a steady decline.
All that is to change however, with the recent announcement that property firms Westfield and Hammerson are joining forces to redevelop the town centre into a shiny £1bn, 2 million sq ft shopping hub, giving both the Whitgift and Centrale shopping centres a full-scale makeover.
While the future might be looking up, what’s Croydon like now? Its main shopping area is divided into two central zones. The somewhat tired Whitgift Centre, which opened in 1968 but was given a facelift in the 1990s, houses the likes of Topman, River Island and Superdry. Across the road sits the Centrale, opened in 2004 with department stores such as House of Fraser plus French Connection and Zara.
The revamp is much needed, as even the newer Centrale doesn’t quite hit the mark now. When Drapers visited it was clear that although the newer centre is more impressive, it was decidedly quieter than its more run-down neighbour.
Although some of the shopfits might not be up to scratch, many of the stores offered a solid spread of trend-led product and core wardrobe basics to please the Croydon shopper. Spring 13 is the season of print and pattern, with all manner of designs on offer covering summery short-sleeved shirts and shorts, while a refocus on jeans over chinos was clear.
Stores that did well were those that ticked off all the key looks but also pushed a few of their own, offering a good point of difference while balancing a level of quality with competitive prices. Turn the page to see which were the hits and misses in Croydon this season.
Stores were visited on March 26 and 27.
Marks for each category are out of 10.
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