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  1. ITV Report

4,100 empty shops in Yorkshire, according to new figures

It's a sign of the times - empty shops and closing down signs, with many high streets across the region struggling.

In the last year we've seen several household names already collapse due to decreasing footfall, with more and more people choosing to shop online.

Research for a special edition of ITV's Tonight programme's and Springboard found that across Yorkshire there's a higher than average number of empty shops - more than four thousand one hundred units - and footfall's dropped by about a quarter in the last decade.

across Yorkshire there's a higher than average number of empty shops Credit: ITV News

Over the past ten years the number of people visiting high streets in the Calendar region has fallen by 25%, the second highest drop in the country.

And figures for vacant shops are also greater than average with 13.6% empty, that's more than 4100 vacant units.

But with two thirds of the regions shops now run by independent retailers - experts say there is hope for the high street.

In Cleckheaton they're hoping to buck the trend by investing in the towns shopping arcade Credit: ITV News

In Cleckheaton West Yorkshire they're hoping to buck the trend by investing in the towns shopping arcade.

They haven't opened yet but every shop unit is taken, and most by independent retailers.

Looking after people, listening to what they want. If I get asked for a product twice in a week I buy one, because someone might want it a third time.

People come in here in their forties that remember me when they were toddling.

– Chris Hookey, Retailer

Really nice shops, individual shops, which is what you want on the high street, instead of these big stores.

have been shopping here for 30 years now. There's car parks here, banks, shops, instead of going into cities, you can't get car parks there.

And because the car parks here are free for four hours - more than any of the other town gives, and one hour parking outside shops so it brings a lot of customers really, it's a busy time here

– High Street Shoppers - Cleakheaton
Eastgate is a very much a window into the past Credit: ITV News

Meanwhile in Eastgate East Yorkshire a traditional high street full of independent businesses - is a very much a window into the past - but traders say in the retail world it's clear that times have changed.

One man Alan Harvey has been running stores on Eastgate for 40 years, but his latest venture, a clothing store, margins are tight with the gradual downturn in trade.

By the time you've paid all the dos and demands you end up with a small wage and an enormous amount of people would never work for what we work for

– Alan Harvey, Retailer
One retailer says margins are tight with the gradual downturn in trade Credit: ITV News

A few doors down from Alan there's one of the area's few big name brands, Clarks. Bosses of the locally run franchise also say they've seen the number of visitors to the town plummet.

Previously used to be able to just rely on people coming through the door and now you have to really get out there to get people in.

– Rachael Wood, Shop Manager
two thirds of the regions shops now run by independent retailers Credit: ITV News

With two thirds of the regions shops now run by independent retailers, experts say there is hope for the high street, and local people are the ones driving it.

We think one of the reasons we see more independent and community businesses coming in is that it gives people the ability to shape things and communities a stake in the future of their high street.

– Vidhya Alakeson, Retail expert

As the ever-evolving shop displays take aim at the next retail milestone, traders say they hope the love for its independents will bring with it a wealth of new visitors.