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Increased shop vacancies in Winchester worry business chiefs
Winchester Business Improvement District is worried about the growing
number of vacant shops although the city is doing better than most other places.
Among recent shop closures have been Thomas Cook in The Pentice and Cadogan and James deli in The Square.
BID figures show there are 312 units with shop-fronts with 16 currently unfilled including prominent High Street sites such as Game. That amounts to just over five per cent compared to 11 per cent nationally.
The numbers currently are lower than in the early 1990s.
The BID committee heard concerns about the ongoing decline in footfall in Parchment Street. Last month it was 29,152 compared to 32,568 in 2011 and 37,320 in 2010, a fall in two years of 22 per cent.
Catherine Turness, BID projects manager, said: “We are quite worried, as it is showing a constant decline. It suffers from a lack of presence on Sundays and Mondays when a lot of shops are not open.
“The reversal of traffic has had a knock-on effect. We are going to work closely with business to see what we can do.
“There is a large unit that was a charity shop (Scope). We are keen it will not be a charity shop again.”
The footfall counters show other streets are doing well including Jewry Street which has a new art cafe and a wedding shop opening at the end of this month.
Ian Welland, head of area development at Hampshire Chamber of Commerce said Winchester was doing relatively well.
He said: “Whilst the UK perspective is looking favourable, growth is certainly slower than predicted in many of our town and city centres in Hampshire.
"Our regional centres of Basingstoke, Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester have high footfalls mainly concentrated in the destination shopping centres, whereas other towns in our region such as Andover, Fareham, Havant, Gosport, Waterlooville, Farnborough, Fleet, and Aldershot are finding the going tough.
“Vacancy rates have not changed for the better and in most situations remain level or down. In terms of shopping, spend locally is at best level and traditional retailing is really up against it with online competition.”