Town tops list as most improved shopping centre

Park View at Whitley Bay.'REF 1902141800
Park View at Whitley Bay.'REF 1902141800

Whitley Bay is the most improved shopping centre in the country, new research has revealed.

Figures released by the Local Data Company show a 12.5 per cent drop in the number of empty shops over the last five years – placing it at the top of the most improved shopping areas in Britain.

We know that our High Streets are at the very heart of our economy and we are doing all we can to help new traders take up empty premises

Mayor Norma Redfearn

Overall, the north east showed a 0.5 per cent drop in the second half of 2014, although the average number of empty shop units at the start of the year is 16.4 per cent.

Officials have expressed their delight at the improved performance shown on the streets of Whitley Bay.

Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “We know that our high streets are at the very heart of our economy and we are doing all we can to help new traders take up empty premises.

“I’m pleased that this new report shows that Whitley Bay is the most improved shopping area in Britain with a very impressive 12.5 per cent drop in its retail and leisure premises vacancy rate.

“The council continues to work with local businesses, residents and various organisations to improve Whitley Bay and develop it further as a vibrant visitor, shopping and leisure destination.

“Throughout the year we organise many fantastic events such the popular St Nicolas Christmas Festival, lots of different roadshows and of course our wonderful summer festival which attracts thousands of families, holidaymakers and day visitors to the town.

“As well as all this we have unveiled the Whitley Bay Seafront Master Plan which will see more than £36m of council spending, private investment and grant-funding being invested in the area.

“Whitley Bay is going from strength to strength and this exciting and ambitious plan will rejuvenate the coastline from St Mary’s Island to the end of the Central Promenade and make it even more attractive – it will put Whitley Bay back on the map as a great holiday destination which will see further increase business for its flourish shops, bars, restaurants and leisure facilities.”

Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said: “Cautious optimism is exactly what the latest vacancy rates data from LDC reveals from the first half of 2015.

“The good news of reducing vacancy rates has run in parallel to better economic performance within the UK, and growing retail sales and consumer confidence.

“The improving vacancy rates across the country has been seen in all location types with improvements of high street units, shopping centres and retail parks.

“All other areas have seen improvements and in the case of the north east by as much as 0.5 percentage points.”