THE word on the street is that Hurstville will continue its downmarket slide once Myer in Westfield closes its doors in January.
Notices have been up on store counters for about two weeks advising customers that the store will not be trading after January 24.
Scentre Group, Westfield's owners, have issued a statement saying: "Myer announced as part of their full year results that they will not be renewing their lease at Westfield Hurstville".
"Scentre Group will announce new retailers for Westfield Hurstville in the coming months," a spokeswoman said.
"Scentre Group has a strong relationship with Myer, with 22 Myer stores across the 39 Australian Westfield centres.
"We look forward to continuing our relationship with Myer."
While not yet confirmed, replacements shops are expected to include Big W and Woolworths.
A Myer spokeswoman said all Myer "team members" would be redeployed to nearby stores.
"We continually assess merits of all planned and existing stores which are driven by our store network strategy and lease renewal discussions," she said. "As a result of this review, we made the decision to not renew the lease at the Hurstville store."
One of the retailers within the Westfield centre who did not want to be identified said if there wasn't a department store like Myer in the centre shoppers would go elsewhere.
"People come to Hurstville for Myer — and don't let people tell you otherwise," she said.
"We've already got all the cheaper shops — do we want this centre looking like Rockdale Plaza?
"I'll go to Burwood or somewhere else."
Sally is a former employee remembered Myer when there were lots of staff and all customers were served.
‘‘Although the store has been allowed to run down, once Myer goes there will be nothing in Hurstville,’’ she said.
‘‘We will go to Miranda.’’
Clothing shop manager Krystel Catalano said there would probably be little impact because Cotton On Body served teens and those in their 20s; Myer catered to older people.
Customer experience manager Philip Wong of Dan Murphy’s said that if Woolworths took over the space Myer holds it would be beneficial to his business, which was already doing well.
The most common view from shoppers and retailers in the centre was that Myer’s closure would be detrimental to Westfield and Hurstville.
Kathryn Gooch of Mortdale said it was a death knell of Westfield.
‘‘I was in shock and am so disappointed, because the main reason I visit Westfield Hurstville is because of Myer,’’ Ms Gooch said.
‘‘For Myer not to renew their lease is going to hurt many businesses in Westfield Hurstville.
‘‘There aren’t too many places in Westfield where a women or man over the age of 40 can purchase clothing apparel, shoes, etc.
‘‘Once Myer shuts I for one will be visiting Roselands shopping centre, which still has Myer, and be giving Westfield Hurstville a miss.’’
Mary from Bexley is also planning to go elsewhere. She said she came to Hurstville several times a week to shop at Myer because it gave her ‘‘better quality’’ choices for herself and her grandchildren.
‘‘I’ll just have to get on the bus and go to Miranda,’’ she said.
Another regular, Phoebe, said she would also have to go elsewhere.
‘‘Big W is similar to Target and the shops we already have,’’ she said.
Hurstville friends Friends Irene and Vicky, seeking more upmarket choices along with the regular bargains, said it was sad the store was closing.
‘‘But when you go there there is no one to serve you,’’ Irene said.
‘‘The centre needs upgrading and the parking is really bad. We will go to Roselands now.’’
Offer to buy site rejected by Hurstville Council
HURSTVILLE mayor Con Hindi said that Myer leaving Westfield might further degrade and devalue the centre and Hurstville would lose out in terms of shoppers.
But the downturn could be turned around if Westfield (the Scentre Group) was prepared to pay a fair price for council-owned land.
Cr Hindi said the centre needed to be upgraded to meet the standards of Westfield at Miranda or Bondi Junction but the company was unlikely to spend the money because Hurstville Council owned about half the land on which the centre stood.
‘‘They are on a 99-year lease so they can’t do anything without asking us and they won’t do anything because of the lease,’’ he said.
Cr Hindi said the council had been approached to sell but the price wasn’t right.
‘‘They have tried to buy it but at a bargain price,’’ he said.
‘‘The community deserves a high price rather than a bargain price — we don’t want to short-change the community.
‘‘If we get Westfield and the council to agree on the price of land this could be a temporary downturn.’’
Cr Hindi said he would like to see more upmarket shops in Hurstville such as David Jones.
What does the closure of Myer at Hurstville mean to you? What would you like to see replace it?