Inside UK’s eeriest wasteland shopping centres

Britain’s once modern and bright shopping centres have turned into lonely, eerie wastelands owing to rising internet shopping during and after the Covid lockdowns. With more people turning to retail giants such as Amazon, the relevance of once much-appreciated shopping centres has fallen in another blow to the high street economy.

The Covid-19 pandemic was for many shopping centres the final nail in the coffin, and as a result, many of them stand empty.

Around 20 percent of UK shopping centre space is currently sitting vacant, and a handful of malls are already completely empty or have just one last store holding out against the inevitable march of change. looks at some of the shopping centres that have suffered the most:

Shopping City, Runcorn

Opened in 1972, Shopping City, Runcorn, was to be the centrepiece of Runcorn’s New Town and was a big hit in its first years.

The largest enclosed shopping centre in Europe at that time, it was the hub of Runcorn’s brand new wheel, with walkways in the sky linking it to the hospital, courts and surrounding, futuristic estates.

It attracted many customers from Manchester and Liverpool, but now big names such as The Range and Tesco have left the “dated” complex

Adam Killen a barber in Runcorn’s Old Town, called it: “A shopping centre with no shops in it”

West Lothian Shopping Centre

Five Sisters Freeport Shopping Village in West Lothian claimed to be Scotland’s flagship high-end destination for designer gear when it opened in 1996.

The Centre was supposed to be the jewel in the area’s crown with designer names such as Versace and DKNY.

Sadly, the entire site was closed in 2004 just a little more than eight years after it opened.

It had some 40 stores in its heyday, including Versace, DKNY and Calvin Klein, but suffered a huge decline in trade in the early 2000s and, in 2004, decided to shut up shop.

Rockport and Levis had outlets at the 50,000sq ft shopping centre, which attracted more than a million visitors in its first year.

It was open seven days a week from 10 am. There was also a Leisureland facility, with soft play, go-karts, an entertainment centre, and many more activities for children at the attraction.

But Livingston Designer Outlet opened just four miles away in 2000, and this had a detrimental effect on Five Sisters.

Wythenshawe Civic Centre

Wythenshawe Civic Centre, in the district of the city of Manchester of the same name, had its heyday in the early 60s when the main shopping centre was opened.

However, by 2023 locals are saying the precinct is “all pound shops and charity stores’ with many of the units now lying empty

Economic decline in the 1990s drove Wythenshawe Civic Centre and the the Civic Centre Forum into decline and now, locals say it looks ‘shabby’ and have called it a ‘s***hole’

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St Catherine’s Place in Bedminster, Bristol

St Catherine’s Place in Bedminster, Bristol has undergone a slow decline over the past 20 years, reported Daily Star.

After the frozen food chain Iceland pulled out recently only a branch of Farm Foods remains.

The future of St Catherine’s Place remains in doubt. Developers hope to refurbish it, to build a big block of flats next to it, and to turn the moribund mall into a bustling thoroughfare

The Sun newspaper has dubbed the centre “the UK’s saddest”.

Firmstone Developments, which is behind the plans, said the centre would play a “key role” in regenerating the wider area.

Festival Park retail centre in Ebbw Vale

When he was Prince Charles, the King once visited the Festival Park retail centre in Ebbw Vale, South Wales. But 30 years after the shopping centre opened, Sports Direct is the only shop still remaining

Once one of the region’s retail showcases, all but one of the Ebbw Vale shopping centre’s stores have now closed, reported Daily Star.

Once there were fairground attractions, plant exhibitions and the famous ‘In the Nick of Time’ opening mechanical clock on the site.

It also housed over 30 shops including SportsDirect, Julian Charles and Holland and Barrett.

Yet the shopping centre has been deserted for several years now, with its walkways empty, and overgrown, and shop fronts left idle.

After years of efforts and proposals to redevelop the area, alterations have now been approved to provide premises for businesses, trades, small storage and logistic operators

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