THERE'S no getting around it - 2021 thus far is not quite the new start and the return to life as we knew it that we had all hoped for.

After a pretty torrid 2020 that involved changing lockdown restrictions and long periods of not being able to do much of what we took for granted in life, 2021 so far has been characterised by the third national Covid lockdown.

We were just five days into the New Year when Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had "no choice" but to reintroduce strict restrictions.

And when you consider that Hampshire entered the old Tier 4 restrictions on Boxing Day, it means that most hospitality and shops in Basingstoke haven't opened since Christmas Eve.

As a result of shops laying empty for so much of the last twelve months, the retail industry has taken a battering.

We've taken a look at some of Basingstoke's empty retail units that need filling.


The most recent, and perhaps the most high-profile, downfall brought around by the pandemic was of the Arcadia group.

It led to Debenhams, one of Festival Place's flagship stores, announcing it would close.

The 242-year-old department store chain said in December 2020 its administrators have “regretfully” decided to start winding down operations while continuing to seek offers “for all or parts of the business”.

Last month, it was announced that online fashion chain Boohoo had bought Debenham's website, but would not be retaining its shops.

Arcadia also owned Topshop and Dorothy Perkins.

Laura Ashley

In March, Laura Ashley announced the permanent closure of 70 stores after the fashion and furnishings retailer appointed administrators, blaming the impact of Covid-19 for tipping it over the edge.

The store in Festival Place was one of those affected.

However, the 67-year-old brand later announced in March its plans to relaunch in partnership with clothes giant Next, reintroducing its homeware into Next stores and online from spring 2021.

But the Festival Place store, nearly a year later, still lies empty.

Monsoon Accessorize

The closure of Monsoon Accessorize in Festival Place will no doubt have left people struggling to find stocking fillers last year.

The clothes and accessories retailer announced in June that 35 of its stores would close for good after it went into administration.

Adena Brands Ltd entered into talks with landlords to agree terms to save at least 100 stores out of its 230-strong estate.

However, the company’s founder Peter Simon said that of those planned for reopening, only six to 10 would be Monsoon, with the others operating as Accessorize.

Hays Travel - Wote Street

Hays Travel's Wote Street branch closed down in February last year after it moved to a new premises.

It came after the family-run firm took over the ill-fated Thomas Cook stores, and in Basingstoke, moved its branch from Wote Street to The Malls.

But there's new uncertainty facing the future of the branch, with plans to shut 89 of Hays's 535 shops revealed last month.

It's not known if Basingstoke's store is one of them.