In the past decade the number of people visiting high streets in the West Country has fallen by 22%, according to data compay Springboard.

Exclusive figures obtained by ITV News and ITV Tonight reveal that between 2009 and 2019, the number of people shopping on the region's high streets dropped.

The West Country has also seen the largest increase in vacancy rates in the country - rising from 9.6% in 2016 to 11.2% today.

That's equivalent to more than 2,700 vacant units - at least 880 of which have been empty for more than three years.

11.2%

The number of vacant shops in the West Country - rising from 9.6% in 2016.

There are now more than 3,000 vacant shops across the West Country. Credit: ITV West Country

READ MORE:

22%

The amount footfall on West Country high streets has fallen in the past decade (2009-2019).

  • Source: Springboard for ITV News / ITV Tonight

Of all the regions, the West Country has seen the highest conversion of retail to non-retail in the past decade.

More than 1,200 shops have been converted into housing, offices or warehouses in the past five years.

Weston-super-Mare lost its Marks and Spencer store after 112 years in 2019. Credit: ITV West Country

Across the country, every town that has said goodbye to a Marks and Spencer store has seen its vacancy rates rise faster than the nationalaverage.

At the end of the decade (2019) Weston-super-Mare said goodbye to Marks & Spencer, after 112 years on the town's high street.

There are towns in the region bucking the trend, though.

According to the Local Data Company, 66% of shops in the West Country are independents, while 34% are chains.

READ MORE: