SHOP vacancy in Grantham has rocketed five per cent in just a year, new figures show - and that figure is set to rise as a further two businesses announce their closure.
News that Euroclean, in High Street, and Buy The Book, in The George Centre, will close comes as figures are released revealing that almost 12 per cent of town centre shops are empty, compared with around seven per cent reported in December last year.
In the shop vacancy tables released by the Local Data Company, Grantham ranks 11th in Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire. Neighbouring Sleaford ranks 17th at 8.8 per cent, while Boston has improved by 0.7 per cent this year and sits at 18th place.
Meanwhile, for Newark the picture is a sad one. The town ranks sixth in the East Midlands with a vacancy rate of 18.6 per cent. Eight places down is Melton Mowbray at 11.8 per cent.
Matthew Hopkinson, a director of the data collection company, said: “Vacancy is just one side of the coin. Occupancy is also dramatically changing with a greater number of leisure uses taking over the high street along with pound shops, pawnbrokers, bookmakers, charity shops and hairdressers.
“Mixed use offer tied in with community is the future of our town centres and as such all involved need to react accordingly for them to have any future at all.”
l As Grantham’s shops deplete, so will the number of shoppers. In a bid to liven up the town centre and encourage more shoppers into town, South Kesteven District Council plans to launch a shop improvement scheme.
In the pilot Shop Front Grant Scheme, businesses in Market Place and Westgate can apply for funding to give their shop fronts a makeover. It will launch in the spring to tie in with the start of a major £1.7m improvement to the Market Place.
Coun Linda Neal said: “The shop front scheme is just one of a number of important initiatives we are introducing to encourage more people to visit Grantham and help new and existing businesses to thrive. We are also consulting on reducing car parking charges in our short stay car parks as well as starting the major improvements to the Market Place.”
Councillors will decide on the proposal for allocating £80,000 per year for the next four years to the scheme.
The chairman of Grantham Business Club Bijal Ladva said: “Anything which helps bring more people into Grantham will provide a welcome boost to local businesses and the wider economy.”
To find out more, call David Mather on 01476 406079.
l Why do you think Grantham’s shops continue to close down? Will SKDC’s shop front scheme be a boost? E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org