Local Data Company reveals rise in empty shops in Huddersfield
Feb 12 2010 by Henryk Zientek, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
MORE than one in 10 shop units in Huddersfield town centre is now empty, a survey has revealed.
Figures from business information group the Local Data Company showed that 11.7% of the town centre’s 422 shops were empty during December, 2009.
That compares with 6.89% in June last year and 3.85% in December, 2008.
However, when total floorspace rather than individual units are considered, the picture looks much better.
Figures compiled by Kirklees Council show just 5.8% of retail space in the town unoccupied during December against 8.2% last April.
Cathy Burger, town centre manager, said the reduction in empty floorspace had been achieved with the arrival of new retailers, including Peter Jones and Virgin Media on New Street and Ethel Austin and Au Naturale in the former Woolworths store on Victoria Lane.
However, the future of Ethel Austin and Au Naturale is now in doubt after the sister chains went into administration this week.
Ms Burger said Huddersfield had improved on its floor space vacancy rate considerably – at a time when trading conditions for many retailers were tough.
She said: “Reports from retailers about trade up until December, 2009, were positive – with many of the national retailers being some of the best performing in their region.
“We are also seeing units in Byram Arcade and on Byram Street being taken up, so all in all, we are seeing some very positive movement.”
The Local Data Company’s survey showed that Wolverhampton was the worst-hit in the UK during December with 23.9% of its town centre stores unoccupied.
Bradford was next on the list with 22.5% of its 451 units empty.
Elsewhere in West Yorkshire, Leeds had 17.77% of its 967 stores vacant with Wakefield logging 17.2% of its 498 outlets and Halifax at 5.22% for its 276 stores as unoccupied.
The survey said: “The number of empty shops in Yorkshire continues to increase, but the rate of increase is slowing.