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New report shows Chesterfield bucks north south divide on shop vacancy rates

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Destination Chesterfield has welcomed news that the town has maintained its top ten position in The Local Data Company’s latest report on shop vacancy rates.

It is one of only three towns north of the Watford Gap that are listed in the report’s top 25 best performing centres with the least vacant shops.

The report, which analyses over 1,900 town centres, shopping centres and retail parks visited in the first half of 2013, ranks Chesterfield 8th in the large centres category.

Figures also show that Chesterfield’s shop vacancy rate has fallen from 8.7 per cent in 2012 to 7.7 per cent in 2013, placing it above the large affluent tourist town of Windsor (9.1 per cent) in the south.

The average vacancy rate of towns in the large centres category currently stands at 13.5 per cent.

Further welcome news includes the fact that the East Midlands has shown the greatest improvement at -0.4 per cent.

Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said:

“Chesterfield is performing well as a town with the vacancy rate nearly halving to 7.7 per cent since its peak in 2010.”

Peter Swallow, chair of Destination Chesterfield, said:

“The report is hugely encouraging, confirming our belief that Chesterfield’s retail sector is expanding rapidly.

“In the last two years many major high street names, including Debenhams and TK Maxx, have chosen to invest in Chesterfield further strengthening our retail offer.

“The town’s mix of independent and high street retailers and excellent location, coupled with good transport links and the growing property market, ensure footfall from local shoppers and those outside the area, helping make the town a go-to destination.”

George Cowcher, chief executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said:

“Chesterfield has got it right in terms of its overall retail mix, which means it can offer something to every type of shopper.

“It has a popular market and some interesting and unique independent shops and boutique stores, as well as some big name national retail brands which help drive footfall into the town centre.

“Further developments due to come on stream later this year and beyond will help Chesterfield to continue to buck the national trend and attract even more investment into the local retail sector.”

In recent years Chesterfield has invested heavily in the town’s retail offering, helping it attract inward investment from large high street names as well as fledgling businesses.

Its historic Market Hall is undergoing a £4 million redevelopment. Opening in October, the market hall will provide 45 internal and external retail units, 22 offices, a central café/coffee shop and conference facilities.

In November 2013 the town will welcome Hobbycraft and Asda Living.

In October 2011 Debenhams opened a full range department store in the town.

Rob Hadfield, head of property at Debenhams, said:

“We have long felt Chesterfield is an exciting destination for a potential Debenhams store.

Since launching the town’s marketing campaign in September 2010, against the backdrop of a cool financial climate, Chesterfield has shown growth across the board and bucked the national trend for declining high streets with unemployment decreasing by 0.5 per centduring this time.

Coun John Burrows, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council and executive member for regeneration, said:

“We could have chosen to bunker down and ride out the recession, but we didn’t. We chose to forge ahead with our marketing plans and this shows in the recent retail figures.

“The results also demonstrate that the pro-active work we are doing with the town’s businesses is paying dividends.

“I’m pleased with the progress we have made but I believe there is more to come if we continue to work hard on delivering the right climate for business growth.”

The investment in Chesterfield as well as its buoyant housing market is a key attraction to retailers choosing to invest in the town, as it has increased local footfall as well as providing a ready pool of employees.

Funding for Destination Chesterfield has been secured from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Chesterfield Borough Council and the local business community until December 2015, ensuring the marketing campaign’s on-going success.

Report key facts

The Local Data Company’s latest report on vacancy rates entitled Shopped Out analyses over 1,900 town centres, shopping centres and retail parks visited in the first half (H1) of 2013. Whilst the shop vacancy rate in the top 650 town centres has remained stable at just above 14%, it masks significant differences in performance by location.

  • In H1 2013 the GB shop vacancy rate has remained stable at 14.1 per cent (-0.1 per cent on 2012)
  • The number of vacant shops empty shops in the top 650 town centres is 22,339, which is the equivalent of 23 Sheffield city centres lying empty.
  • The number of food and beverage (leisure) units has expanded at three times the rate of shops, +0.9 per cent v +0.3 per cent.
  • Whilst we have already identified oversupply of shops in Great Britain, the stock has grown in the last six months by 403 units.
  • Wales has the highest national shop vacancy rate at 17.5 per cent.
  • Scotland and Wales have shown an improvement in shop vacancy rates by -0.6 per cent and -0.5 per cent respectively whilst England’s worsened by 0.1 per cent.
  • The best performing region by a long way (3.4 per cent) is London at 9.4 per cent.
  • The worst performing region remains as the North West at 20.1 per cent.
  • The East Midlands has shown the greatest improvement at -0.4 per cent.
  • Shopping centres continue to have the highest overall vacancy rate at 16.1 per cent, followed by large (13.5 per cent) and medium (11.9 per cent) town centres, retail parks (9.6 per cent) and small town centres (9.2 per cent).
  • Retail Parks, whilst best performing overall, see similar differences to towns and shopping centres with 63 basis points difference between the highest regional retail park vacancy in the North East (13 per cent) and the lowest in the South West (6.7 per cent).
  • Shopping Centre vacancy is clustered in the range between 13.5 per cent (North East) and 18.2 per cent (North West) with London (10.2 per cent) and the West Midlands (22.2 per cent) significant outliers.
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Chesterfield’s famous twisted spire

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