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Empty shop figures in Kendal lowest for years

South Lakeland’s biggest high street is in Kendal, where 437 shops were surveyed earlier this month. Credit: South Lakeland District Council

New figures released by South Lakeland District Council show the level of empty shops in Kendal is at its lowest for six years.

The percentage of shop units in the town that are presently vacant is 9.97%, the first time the rate has been below 10% since 2008.

South Lakeland’s biggest high street is in Kendal, where 437 shops were surveyed earlier this month. There were 43 shops classed as empty in Kendal according to the most recent figures, down 11 from the 54 vacant shops recorded in September 2013 when the rate of empty units was 12.41%.

There is also an encouraging picture in Ulverston, where the rate of 8.28% empty shops is the lowest in the town since April 2012. The September figures show there are 14 empty shop units in Ulverston.

In Windermere five shop units are empty, a rate of 4.16%, which is the lowest rate recorded this year. It is a similar situation in Bowness where the rate of 7.38% is also the lowest rate so far this year, with five more shop units occupied since June.

The new quarterly figures do show that empty shops have increased in Ambleside to 14, up from 13 at the start of the year, and there is one extra empty shop unit in Milnthorpe and two additional empty shops in Kirkby Lonsdale compared to the June 2014 figures. In Grange the number of empty units has remained the same at three.

The national average for shop vacancy rates is 13.5% and the North West average is 16.9%. All areas of South Lakeland are below that national average figure and the overall average for South Lakeland is 7.3%.

Empty shop numbers are collected every quarter by the Economy and Assets team at South Lakeland District Council in Kendal, Ulverston, Kirkby Lonsdale, Ambleside, Windermere, Bowness and now Kirkby Lonsdale, Grange and Milnthorpe.

“It is positive to see the levels of empty shops in some areas is returning to pre-recession levels, but while the headline figures look good there is still a lot more to do to help the independent retailers."

– Giles Archibald, Councillor

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Shoppers return as weather improves

The improving weather has meant a boost at the tills at the Gretna Gateway Outlet Village. The stores are much busier than yesterday, where shoppers stayed away from the open air mall due to the adverse conditions.

Both the main and overflow car park have been full for much of the day and 2013 is on course to be the busiest ever year for the centre.

The Lanes visitor numbers down on last year

The number of visitors to The Lanes shopping centre in Carlisle dropped by almost 100,000 people compared to the same time last year.

Nearly 760,00 visited the centre between December 1st and Christmas Eve this year. In 2012, the figure was 872,000.

Commercial Director David Jackson puts it down to changing shopping habits and increased online sales.

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Shoppers hit the Christmas sales

Shoppers in Cumbria and the south of Scotland have been braving the bad weather as they hit the Christmas sales.

New research from Begbies Traynor, an independent business recovery practice, suggests many shops need it.

It says 151 UK retailers are now facing "critical" financial problems, up 8% from the last quarter of 2012, while the number of retail businesses with "significant" financial issues rose by 15% to 15,792.

The number of shops in each sector experiencing "significant" distress has become worse in second hand stores and market stalls, followed by food, drink and tobacco retailers, electrical goods merchants and clothing and footwear retailers.

Full report: Independent retailers in Kendal urge shoppers to buy local

Independent shops in the Lake District are struggling to survive according to some business leaders in Kendal.

They say if every shopper spent an extra £5 on the high street the future of small traders would be secured.

Those that have survived are the ones which have changed with the times.

Samantha Parker has been in the town:

Independent's day for Kendal retailers

Retailers in Kendal are taking part in a national campaign to encourage consumers to shop locally.

"Independent's Day" is aimed at celebrating independent retailers and recognising their role in local communities.

Traders in Kendal are displaying their finest products, services and goods in a bid to increase footfall in the town.

"This is a great opportunity to celebrate our independent traders and show our appreciation for all their hard work throughout the year.

"They help form the unique character of our towns and are fundamental in making South Lakeland such a special place.

"Kendal is a leading market town and this is our chance to show the value of our family run businesses and celebrate diversity on the high-street."

– Councillor Giles Archibald, South Lakeland District Council

Concern as shoppers desert Scottish Borders

Business leaders in the Borders have held, what have been described as 'important talks' with the council after a survey showed shoppers are staying away from eight Borders towns.

There's been a 17% drop in the numbers over the last four years.

Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce says more can be done to boost local high streets.

James Aitken from SBCC told ITV Border:

'If you walk into any shop in the Borders it is an issue right across the board. That's why we are such supporters of the borders railway and broadband being improved. Business rates are a huge issue. We would ask the council to look at that again and see what help they can give. "

– James Aitken
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