One in four shops in Bristol stands empty, claims research
ALMOST a quarter of shops in Bristol city centre are currently standing empty, researchers have found.
Retail analyst the Local Data Company claims the city is struggling and that the proportion of empty stores on its streets and precincts is one of the highest in the South West, at just over 22 per cent, compared with a national average of 14.3 per cent.
A survey carried out by the Evening Post in November found more than 50 shops in the city centre were standing empty. But that number has increased and could rise further following the recent collapse of a number of high street chains.
High-profile casualties in recent weeks have included lingerie chain La Senza, which closed its Cabot Circus store, and clothing retailer Peacocks, which is currently in administration, although its shops remain open.
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The report says the number of empty shops in the city centre has increased by 0.7 per cent on the previous six months.
In Bedminster, just under one in five shops were empty.
The report said: "The future looks bleak as consumer spend moves increasingly away from the High Street. Weak consumer confidence, rising unemployment, the growth in retail sales by supermarkets and the internet, a significant number of retail leases coming to an end and the uncertainty in the banking sector, all leads to the view that shop vacancy rates are set to rise in 2012."
Matthew Hopkinson of the Local Data Company said: "Technology is driving consumer behaviour to a world of engagement, entertainment and the ability to shop where, how and when we like.
"Town centres need to adapt to this changing environment if they are to survive and thrive."
The figures come after a report by TV retail expert Mary Portas made a string of recommendations about how to protect high streets.
Ministers have asked towns to come forward and bid to become one of 12 "Portas pilots", which will give them a share of £1 million to work with the Queen of Shops and turn around their high streets.