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Bad weather hits retail sales

Britain's plummeting temperatures hit the high street hard with the number of shoppers falling by 3.3% to give the worst January performance in three years.

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Rising rates of shop vacancies across Britain

The shop vacancy rates also make for bad reading after a difficult start to the year, which has seen a raft of high-profile retail collapses. Fashion chain Republic was the latest to hit the wall last week, joining other major casualties HMV, Jessops and Blockbuster.

Blockbuster video store in central London Credit: Press Association

The British Retail Consortium said it was encouraging that, while higher than the 10.3% seen last January, the vacancy rate of 10.9% was lower than the 11.3% recorded in October.

But some regions are particularly badly affected by vacant shops, with the rate now standing at 17% in Wales, 17.2% in Northern Ireland and 10.2% in Scotland.

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