Number of empty shops in Blackpool centre falls

The Mr Basrai restaurant is one example of  big names coming to Blackpool's high streets
The Mr Basrai restaurant is one example of big names coming to Blackpool's high streets
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The number of empty shops in Blackpool is above average but new figures show a fall in vacancies in the main retail area.

Figures for May from the Blackpool Business Leadership Group show that for HoundsHill, Victoria Street, Bank Hey Street, Church Street, Corporation Street and Adelaide Street West the rate was 11 per cent.

That equates to 18 empty units, down by two, on the previous figures.

This rises to 15.5 per cent, or 72 units, for the wider area of Topping Street, Queen Street, Clifton Street, Birley Street, Market Street, Talbot Road, Abingdon Street and Cedar Square – down one – on the previous results.

In the town centre as a whole, which includes the above streets plus the Promenade, Springfield Road, Dickson Road, King Street, Cookson Street, Caunce Street and the new Talbot Gateway area, there were 115 units out of 644 vacant, a rate of 17.8 per cent, up by one on previous ly.

The British Retail Consortium said the national town centre vacancy rate was 9.6 per cent in April 2016.

Eileen Ormand, town centre manager for the Blackpool Business Improvement District, said the ongoing economic difficulties were a challenge but Blackpool had been working hard to make itself a place that shoppers and therefore retailers wanted to come.

She said BID’s work with Blackpool Council to manage the CCTV system and to keep the streets cleaner had gone some way to make it more attractive to businesses looking to move to the resort.

She said: “The free events we have been running in the town centre help to bring in more people and make it a place that people want to spend time in.

“Increasing footfall is obviously an attraction for prospective businesses as much as improving security and the cleanliness of the town.

“Speaking to bosses from M&S and other big names in town, they said the High Street Games event had the effect of keeping people in the town centre for longer at the weekend. They saw this lift in ‘dwell time’ and if people spend more time in town they are likely to spend more too.”

She said the council and BID were continually in talks with retailer and other businesses about opening units in Blackpool. She also said once a business comes to the resort they offer encouragement and help in getting people to visit their area.

She added: “We have had some big successes recently with the likes of Mr Basrai’s restaurant, Las Iguanas and Harry Ramsdens at the Tower and we are hoping to continue that. The BID , the Council and the retailers all want the same thing – filling those empty units.”

The July report from the Blackpool Business Leadership Group showed that since February new businesses inluded; Coffee Republic (Bickerstaffe Square); National Citizens’ Service, Virgin Media (HoundsHill); Outlet Store, UIKO (Victoria Street); Santa Fashions (Bank Hey Street); West Coast Choc Café (Birley Street); Nour Lebanese Restaurant,Anime and Manga Store (Topping Street); Home Again, Creation Express, Red Carpet Dresses and Black Bear Art Gallery (Church Street).