WHSmith to shut down Ramsgate High Street store

WHSmith in Ramsgate (Image PrimeLocation)

The WHSmith store in Ramsgate High Street will shut at the start of 2024.

The retailer, which has some 600 High Street stores and another 800 travel stores, says it has been “unable to trade viably” in the town.

Staff will be redeployed to other stores “where possible.”

A WHSmith spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the WHSmith store in Ramsgate will be closing at the start of next year.

“ Unfortunately, we are unable to continue to trade viably from this location and the decision has been taken to close the store in January 2024.

“We are extremely grateful for the commitment of our in-store colleagues who we will support with this transition and redeploy to nearby stores, where possible.”

The shop is being marketed through Miles & Barr Commercial and will be available for a new tenant to move in from February 2024.

Miles & Barr say the landlord of the 5,095 Sq. Ft ground floor unit: “is open to either letting the whole unit at £39,000pa or £21,500pa to split the unit in two.”

The news comes on the heels of the Wilko announcement that it is going into administration with 400 shops and 12,000 jobs under threat, meaning another empty unit in Ramsgate town.

Corby’s Tea Rooms in York Street will also be closing with its last day of trade on September 2 due to the owners retiring.

Ramsgate is already suffering from unused shops in the town where large retailers, such as New Look and Argos, have exited large and prominent properties.

In recent years the exodus has included J C Rooks – now occupied by Hidden Treasures – Sports Direct/USC, destined for smaller retail and flats, Paynes grocers and HSBC bank, which Sugar Rush hopes to move to due to planned development at its current site.

Further back and the exodus includes Woolworth, River Island, Thomas Cook, Blockbusters, Wimpy and so many more businesses large and small, while at Westwood names such as Debenhams, Top Shop, Monsoon, Five Guys, Carphone Warehouse and more disappeared.

Empty shops blighting the High Street – and a development plan suggestion for dealing with them


  1. So many shops going to be boarded up the window cleaners will be going around with sanding machines..again. Tory Broken Britain for you. The sooner Manston Airport reopens the sooner life will be brought into our towns.

    • Good grief. Racehorses and mangetout, wasn’t that what Sally Dixon put forward as important cargo? or was it a different vegetable?

    • Right, I have never voted Tory in the 50 years I have been entitled to vote. Please tell me how Labour have improved Ramsgate. We now have a Labour controlled council, yet W.H. Smith’s is closing down, when it was a viable concern when, Labour, Tories and the Brexit party controlled the council. I think there is a flaw in your comment.

    • Keep on dreaming Bill, even when Manston was operational, it only had 4 passenger flights a day, and the passengers wanted to get home as fast as possible after landing! Anyway, no passenger flights are included in the DCO, only cargo planes, Duuurh! At least 4 operators have failed to make a go of Manston, due to lack of demand, again Duurh!

        • Wrong Peter, I did fly from Manston once because I used to stay in Spain for 8 winters, renting a bungalow or flat, and because I could ride my bike most days as it was warm and flat. The cost to fly to Alicante was the same as that from Gatwick, including the train fare! Consequently the carrier only attracted mostly local people, who had to bring their own tea bag, and sandwiches if they wanted a snack before take off! At Gatwick I could buy a reasonable meal, which I always planned in before take off! People much preferred Gatwick as a shopping experience too, rather than the Micky Mouse arrangement at Manston, sitting on hard back chairs waiting for their aircraft to be made ready, or arrive from a previous flight! No amount of marketing would get passengers to repeat that experience, so they went to Gatwick next time!

      • Times have changed Dumpton. An old person like you might still go down to your local travel operator to get ripped off, but younger people book online and will often pick the cheapest airport to fly from.

  2. I stopped shopping in Ramsgate High Street due to large gangs of youths and drug users that are constantly hanging around there. The place is a dive. Graffiti over everything, drunks and drug users laying about the place, beggars coming up to me for money. It’s just an unpleasant shopping experience.

    • Thanet is a dumping ground for the city’s unwanted criminals from all over England, there is more peedos and sex offenders in than that got released from prison than any other area, we have the worst crock council, and the highest rates to run businesses, thanet has no chance , shut a shop for more flats to dump the cityd waste in , the city’s pay our councils to take there waste . Wakeup people.

  3. On the contrary, The High Street should be used by alot of decent people. I go to Ramsgate centre almost every day and most people’s behaviour in the High Street is usually fine.

  4. It seems to me that since Henekeys “accidentally” caught fire, Ransgate has drastically become a ghost town. It seems that whatever party was in power, no one has bothered about Ramsgate, or the people of Ramsgate. Shame on all of the Councillors and Ramsgate Councillors, past and present. Let see what you will now do to help Ransgate, not just your your expenses. Will you allow it to become another charity shop, or an “unaffordable” local housing development.

  5. £39,000 per annum to rent the property. Might THAT suggest one of the reasons for the closure of WHSmith and the growth of empty shops.
    Who owns the property?
    They are not going to reduce the rent much are they?
    Huge amounts of cash are extracted from our shops and our own pockets as we buy things, by owners of land and buildings
    They don t work or contribute but they grow rich out of the efforts of others.
    When costs are discussed, there are lots of complaints about Business Rates , which go to our local councils so we all benefit.
    But rents are rarely considered so the corrupt system that is ruining the High Streets carries on.

  6. Yes, a 39k a year saving when there is one in WWX, but with a declining and expensive bus service, who will go there, especially when we are ALL expected to go green now and cut down on green emissions.

    • Surely a good walk from Ramsgate to WWX would:
      Improve people’s health and fitness
      Cut car travel and thus emissions
      Save people transport costs, thus enabling them to spend more at shops at WWX

      What’s not to like about all of the above? ALL shops should move their premises to WWX, thus increasing the number of people gaining the benefits I’ve listed…

  7. I’m actually surprised that ANY W.H. Smiths survives. The Margate branch only gets used because the Post Office is in there, and even the Westwood Cross branch never looks particularly busy.

    I’m old enough to remember a small W.H. Smith in Westgate!

  8. That’s funny, I thought WH Smith had already closed down. It always looks so dark from the outside; very uninviting. Were they saving energy costs or just setting themselves up for failure?

  9. Can’t rally blame the Labour council or the Tory boys – everyone buys online for cheaper now days and the big high street retail outlets just can’t compete with all their overheads.
    The only way to bring them back would be to add a super tax to online buying?

  10. Whats left now in Ramsgate-NOTHING-Well done Thanet council either it was run by labour or the Tories. Years ago back in the 70s Ramsgate was still in its heyday. Classic and Kings cinema loads off shops in the town and on the seafront-And pleasurama Neros peggy sues nightclub. All GONE.

    • People going on foreign holidays and shopping on line are the prime culprits – nearly every town is the same !

      • Nothing wrong with “foreign holidays”. Or are you also against people from other nations coming here for their vacations?

        • Locals used to spend on local shops and local facilities, if they spend that £££ they are not spending it locally !

  11. Why not drastically reduce car parking charges, or abolish altogether to give shops a chance.Business rates and rents must drop give the shops a chance.

  12. So you are saying the local people are the problem. Well, in all honesty its cheaper to go on holiday abroad that in Thanet, or any other part of the U.K. and yes, in years gone by Thanet was a thriving holiday resort, untill it became run down by different councils, and became to expensive, with nothing to do, dirty beaches, overflowing bins etc for the holiday makers, as
    for shopping on line, well its cheaper, because the rent and business tax is extortionate. So, in this day and age, people are looking for the best deal, as I expect you are.

  13. The rental rates in Thanet and Westwood cost specifically are outrageous, little wonder businesses leave and then the store remains empty or eventually becomes a series of pointless stores which are not sustainable and close again, much like the little airfield at Manston.

  14. Shut the dump down its a health hazard

    Addicts all over the town.. It smells of piss. Toilets closed full of drugs.

    Tell me one place.. There.. Drugs not tolerated and gated off till health hazard gone.

    Wilko be gone.. Ramsgate is a dive

  15. Ramsgate is not “a dive”, nor does it “smell of piss”, nor are the toilets closed and smelling of drugs.

    • The Anaesthetist, come on now.
      There comes a time in everyone’s life where you just have to agree, even a little bit with other people.

      I’ve lived in Ramsgate all my life. And that highstreet, like many others. Especially Margate, is a dump. Now I can’t sit here and say what’s caused it to go the way it has, maybe its a combination of all things people are mentioning. Councils, wwx, the locals or landlords who seem to be modern day thieves. But what I can say, is its a dump. There is nothing there to entice people, constant homeless alcoholics sat outside lloyds/HSBC drinking all times of day. Not that I’ve ever seen them be an issue besides a lot of swearing (doesnt bother me but might do others) isnt exactly a good look for the town. The toilets by that carpark behind Barclays are rank at least in the men’s. And on several occasions I’ve seen them closed. You seriously need to go have a quiet word with yourself because you are, in fact, deluded.

      I remember the town growing up, it was booming. Woolworths, the market stalls all up the highstreet and in the carpark behind Iceland. It was absolutely rammed.
      They say all good things come to an end, and the highstreet has had it. It’ll never be worth going to again.

      • I strongly disagree with the negative views which some commentators have made on this thread.on this thread.

  16. The second “on this thread.” is a typo obviously, so there’s no need for people to point it out to me.

    • The only person who would point a blatant typo like that out, is your friend Phylis. (Or whatever their name is)

  17. Sadly you Scott is 99.9% correct. From being a thriving busy town our Council allowed Westwood X unfettered permission to build masses of faceless sheds knowing full well it would kill Ramsgate & Margate towns as they were the largest 2 locally. NO thought or plan was given to how ; if possible at all ; they would survive. Ramsgate town area is completely neglected; dirty , unswept and unfriendly due to big name shops like W H Smith, Wilkos , banks etc etc deserting the towns or shutting up completely. Any grant money Ramsgate seems to get goes to the Harbour area , even the pretty gate appears to be there to put people off venturing into the town. It is virtually a ghost town now with banks, building societies, shops and businesses opening just 3 or 4 days a week and most closing at 3pm .

    • The suggestion that the Harbour Street gate has been installed to stop people entering the town has been made more than once on this paper. I don’t know why, as it’s clearly there to make sure that drivers don’t drive into Harbour Street during the hours when it’s a pedestrian-only street.

        • Dear Dr. Francis Jones, as you are all for people’s health and a brisk walk to Westwood X, I would be grateful for a piece of your wisdom as to your solution regarding the ghost towns that Westwood X has created and the health & sanity of the business owners ( the few that are left ) stuck with unviable shops. If you have a fair & reasonable solution then you are a lot smarter than TDC . But I guess that is no big deal as the bar for that is very low 🤔🤔🤔

  18. The Harbour Street gate is there to stop drivers from entering the street during pedestrian-only hours. When the gate is shut, the pavements on each side of the street are accessible for pedestrians.

  19. As we were discussing Ramsgate town ( not Manston ) with the mass closures or shutting up at 3pm , it may be time for the reasons to be debated. Perhaps it is time for TDC to wake up and smell the coffee. Town shops could be compensated for being raped of their trade by TDC allowing the sheds at Westwood X become Thanet’s new shopping centre. Then purchasing those unviable businesses and demolishing them. Larger modern units could be built with free 2 hour parking in town car parks and similar on nearby roads. Ramsgate could then rise from the ashes to become a welcoming viable town once more. Obviously just a pipe dream of course , but it may just be the only solution and perhaps a matter of time 🤔

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