Wales

Wales could face UK's 'steepest rise' in business rates

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Image caption Wales could see the steepest rise in business rates across the UK

Wales' retailers are warning they could see the steepest rise in business rates in the UK from next year.

The Welsh Retail Consortium says the "real issue" facing retailers will be once the revaluation of properties takes effect from 1 April 2017.

It warns Wales could see up to a 10% leap.

A Welsh Government spokesman said they had "delivered significant targeted support to reduce business rates bills for small businesses in particular".

New figures have shown some good news, with a reduction in the number of empty shops.

The vacancy rate fell from almost 14% to 11% during April 2016.

Sara Jones from the WRC said "action is needed now" if Wales did not want to fall behind the rest of the UK in terms of its retail presence, and if it wanted to maintain a "vibrant industry."

'Just too expensive'

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Image caption Williams Bazaar (right) is closing after 70 years of trading in Ammanford

A well-known shop in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire is due to close in a few weeks after 70 years of trading.

Williams Bazaar owner Llew Williams said trade was not how it used to be.

"Business rates has a lot to do with it," he said, "it's just too expensive."

Mr Williams also blamed parking charges, which are currently £1.50 a day, £1 for four hours and 70p for an hour.

He said: "The car parks have spoilt everything. People aren't willing to pay to come in and get a loaf of bread for example."

Deian Harries from Ar Gered shoe shop in Ammanford wanted the parking charges reduced.

"I'd like to see the tariffs changing in the town to something like 50p for two hours and 20p for half an hour, so people could come into town," he said.

Carmarthenshire council said parking charges in Ammanford were "very competitive," and they were working to promote the town centre offer.

The WRC's figures also show a 0.6% reduction in footfall, although this represents a slower decline than seen in recent months.

There was better news for retail parks, where footfall continued to accelerate with a rise of 7.1% from 6.5% last month.

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