Wiltshire

Salisbury city best performing in GB shop vacancy table

Salisbury has the fewest empty shops of all the large shopping centres in Britain, according to a new survey.

Its vacancy rate of 7.7% is the lowest in the country, says the Local Data Company report, with Cambridge (8.5%) and Chesterfield (8.7%) close behind.

Lucinda Boddy, who closed her shop in May claiming the city was "dying" and pointing the finger at the council, said she found the report "amazing".

Some 500 town centres and 145,000 shops were visited to gather the statistics.

'Lovely customers'

Mrs Boddy, who ran Lulu's Boutique in Fisherton Street, blamed location, parking charges and business rates for her failure in Salisbury.

She continues to operate the business from a branch in Lymington, Hampshire, but said she was "very sad" to have shut up shop in Wiltshire.

"I can only ever judge what people were saying to us, and customers were saying that 'Salisbury isn't the same'", she said.

"We had lovely customers in Salisbury and I have always worked there, so yes I do miss it.

"But we are now flying and it does feel for us like we have dropped something that was costing us money, so for me it was the best move.

"It's a very difficult market out there for high street retailers and independent shops and I think it will only be the strong ones that can last it out."

'Pleasantly surprised'

Fleur de-Rhe Philipe, from Wiltshire Council, said the study supported the authority's belief that Salisbury was "a vibrant city with lots of opportunities for local businesses".

She added: "Nevertheless, we recognise the need to continue to work hard to support the city's businesses and retailers.

"We are already investing in projects directly targeted at improving the economy and business environment including a major retail-led redevelopment of the Central Car Park and Maltings area."

Salisbury's chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said he was "pleasantly surprised" with the report.

"I'd say it was down to good quality shops with a mixture of national and independent traders all working hard to give customers what they want," said Tony Quinn.

"What's nice about Salisbury is that we all work together - the FSB, City Centre Management and the Chamber of Commerce - and then with the city and county councils."

The report from the Local Data Company, titled "Too Many Shops", said the worst performer of all the large shopping centres was Nottingham with a vacancy rate of 30.6%.

It defines a large shopping centre as a town or city containing over 400 shops, in particular comparison, convenience or service retail uses.

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