Empty shop survey for Norwich, King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth
Norwich and King's Lynn have continued to buck a national trend of empty stores blighting the nation's high street and town and city centres, according to a survey out yesterday.
Figures for the end of June show the number of vacant shops in Norwich is 12.3pc while King's Lynn has only 10.7pc of its stores standing empty. Nationally, the Local Data Company (LDC) survey says the number of 'ghost shops' was 14.5pc at a time when shoppers were counting every penny in tough economic times.
Although the figures mean Norwich and King's Lynn have performed above the national average in the LCD league tables for the second set in a row, Norwich saw a 3.9pc rise in empty shops compared to the end of 2010, while King's Lynn fell by 0.4pc.
However, figures for the east of England show that Norwich has more empty shops than the average regional figure of 11.3pc.
The LDC statistics also claim that the number of vacant stores in Great Yarmouth at the end of June was 15.4pc, compared to 12.9pc from the end of last year.
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Stefan Gurney, of the Norwich City Centre Partnership, said he was surprised to see the LDC figures as the city, which is in the top 10 national shopping destination list, was doing well in attracting new shops and businesses, including a Wilkinson store, Virgin Money outlet and a Yo! Sushi restaurant.
Mr Gurney said: 'I don't know how LDC gauged there was a rise of 4pc in empty shops. I would have said the complete opposite in fact.
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'There are huge chain stores coming to Norwich and showing an interest here. People are moving into Norwich as it is seen as a prime shopping destination.'
Norwich's main shopping rivals of Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge fared better in the LDC empty shops league table with vacancy rates of 9.4pc and 10.3pc respectively.
Mr Gurney said that landlords in Norwich were looking at rents for potential businesses to try to remove the number of empty stores, while both the city's Chapelfield and Mall shopping centres were doing well.
The querying of the LDC figures for Norwich follows in the wake of an EDP shop survey in June which found just 3.3pc in Norwich were empty and that 7.5pc of shops across 10 market towns were vacant.
In King's Lynn, the borough council supplied figures which went against yesterday's LDC report by showing only 37 units out of 474 were empty in July. The figures equates to a 7.8pc vacancy rate, well below the LDC figure of 10.7pc.
LDC surveyed 1,000 centres nationally and for the east of England only 15 out of 82 centres monitored had improved, with Maldon, Cambridge and Epping performing well, but if the worst performing centres of Harlow, Dunstable and Letchworth were not taken into account, the regional average would only be 10pc.