A family-owned business that has honored Purley High Street for over 40 years will soon be closing for the last time.
Lorimers on Brighton Road has been providing the community with all the stationery, art supplies, greeting cards and toys they could want for decades and many residents have been deeply saddened by the news of its closure.
Although the Purley store is just one of 12 Lorimers branches across Surrey and Kent, the closure has shown how the country’s shopping streets are struggling with various factors, including competition from online shopping.
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“Sadly, it’s a sign of the times and an example of the ever-changing face of the High Street, not just in Purley but nationally,” said Simon Cripps, CEO of Purley Business Improvement District (BID).
“The impact of the Internet and online sales has resulted in a gradual shift from Main Street, from transactional sales (which can now be done online) to a more ‘experience-based’ shopping model.
Mr Cripps added: “It really is a huge shame that Purley is losing Lorimers, which has been such a central part of town for decades.
“I certainly remember buying toys there when I was a young boy a few years ago, I will miss this very much.”
Purley Lorimers will close on January 15 after a final decision was made last week.
Residents of Purley were surprised by the news and shared their memories of the famous store on social media.
“Really terrible news for our main street,” wrote one.
Another said: “Noooo! It’s been there for years. Like ripping Purley’s heart out.”
A second person added, “Noooo, such sad news that such lovely ladies running the place will definitely come up and say goodbye before going to buy a few things.”
A third person commented: “Another nail in the coffin for Purley. How sad.”
While a fourth person added: “We moved to Purley in 1977 and it was there for sure !! Sad to see him go….”
Speculation has already started on what will become of the store, with many predicting that a new cafe, barber or charity store will take over.
However, Mr Cripps warns that without change, Lorimers will not be the last highly regarded store to leave Main Street.
He said: “We are seeing an increase in cafes, restaurants and beauticians but a decline in stores like Lorimers where most products can easily be purchased online.
“The pandemic has dramatically accelerated this national change on the High Street, and the Lorrimers will not be the last victim.
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“The Lorimers are going to be truly missed at Purley, but like anything, it’s market demand, and the demand for their types of products is now moving in line.”
He added that the key for businesses is to provide “an extra experience” to customers.
He said: “Businesses and the shopping street need to evolve with the times and offer some form of additional experience, more than just traditional transactional selling.
“We are seeing this with the new cafes in Purley, such as O’Farol and El Shams, and understand that with the increase of new residential units around Purley, several more cafes and bars will open soon.”
Customers will still be able to support Lorimers through their sister company Zieler.co.uk or in the Coulsdon store.
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