High streets show signs of revival as more shops open
High streets across the Westcountry are showing signs of revival, with an average of 11 new shops opening every week across the region.
Research from accountants PwC revealed that chain retailers opened 294 new stores and closed 292 shops in South West town centres during the first six months of the year.
The figures contrast with the same time last year when 129 more stores shut than opened and bucked the national trend of more shops closing than opening.
The turnaround on the high street is the another sign of recovery in the wider economy – with employment, consumer spending and business confidence all on the up.
Ask us for a quote for standard C Rated (Window Energy Rating) windows and we will upgrade your order to A Rated for FREE
Terms: Must quote Okehampton People website when arranging survey
Contact: 01837 510303
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
Derek Phillips, chairman of South West Chambers of Commerce, hailed the report as "great news" for the retail sector.
"The high street is beginning to turn a corner. More people are coming into town centres as the wider economy continues to pick-up," he said. The number of closures in the South West was lower than last year when an average of 13 shops shut each week and ten opened each week.
Tim Jones, chairman of Devon & Cornwall Business Council, said the latest report signalled a "very important" and "exciting" change. "It's no longer one-way traffic. People have been talking about the death of the high street due to online shopping, but what we're seeing is a resurgence in small local businesses."
Coffee shops, convenience stores and betting shops were among those on the increase, but technology and fashion retailers showed the biggest decline.
However David Parlby, CEO of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: "It's still a very tough climate. The traditional retailers are definitely finding it hard as they struggle to negotiate affordable business rates, or compete with out-of-town and online stores. The good quality shops are being replaced by down-market stores which has left many people in the industry quite shocked."
The report revealed Exeter boasted one of the lowest vacancy ratings in the country with fewer than 7% of stores empty, whereas Torbay was above the national average at around 18%.
Nationally, town centre shops shut at an average of 18 a day during the six months of 2013, falling from more than 20 a day last year.
The study highlighted the changing make-up of the high street – with charity shops, betting shops and cheque cashing outlets enjoying the biggest rise in numbers.
The study of 500 UK town centres compiled by the Local Data Company LDC showed 3,366 outlets closed in the six-months compared with 3,157 openings, a net reduction of 209 shops. Matthew Hopkinson, LDC director, added: "The good news is that the significant decline in chain retailer numbers in town centres in 2012 is slowing down.
"That said, closer examination of the data shows the significant ongoing decline of traditional shops, with food, beverage and entertainment taking their place."
South West consumer spending up 2.8 per cent – survey
Optimism is returning to Westcountry households, according to a new survey which suggests recession-driven penny pinching might be coming to an end.
A monthly analysis by credit card firm Barclaycard has shown that South West consumer spending in September was up 2.8%. This figure means that spending in the region has remained above the rate of inflation for the sixth month in a row.
Rob Harris, Barclays Regional Network Retail Director for the South West, said the boost demonstrated that consumers were feeling better about the economic situation.
“South West consumer spending was up again in September, growing 2.8% year-on-year and out-pacing inflation for the sixth month in a row. Shoppers are spending more but they remain cautious and we’re seeing them make smart choices to stretch the household budget – using public transport instead of the car, eating out more but spending less each visit, and shopping around supermarkets to take advantage of the best offers.”