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The Masked Tulip

Experts Warn It Could Get Worse For City Centre Shops

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http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/news/Exp...il/article.html

THE number of empty city centre shops is rising, with experts warning things could get much worse by Christmas.

New figures show that around one in 10 city centre shops is empty.

Statistics from the Local Data Company (LDC), a retail data analysis firm, show that Swansea has not been hit as hard by the economic downturn as other shopping centres in the UK. But experts warn that there could be worse to come and one city businessman believes it could be two or three years before the new David Evans development is filled.

Figures from LDC show in the past six months the number of vacant retail properties in the city centre has increased by five to 30.

Yet, with one store opening for every three businesses shutting shop in the city, the LDC predict the rate of closures could increase when they next check the 327 retail premises in the heart of Swansea in December.

The LDC said vacancy rates in Wales and England have risen from just over four per cent in the middle of last year, to nearly 12 per cent by the end of June.

South West Wales's smaller town centres seem to be fairing a little better according to the figures. In Neath, the vacancy rate is 4.5 per cent, with around seven of the town's 166 shops empty. Port Talbot's rate stands at 3.5 per cent with approximately three vacant shops .

LDC director Matthew Hopkinson, said: "Swansea probably had a high vacancy rate compared to other centres. Even though Swansea is not the most buoyant with a vacancy rate at 9.3 per cent, it is not massively increasing compared to the rest of England and Wales, which has risen from just over four per cent in the middle of last year, to nearly 12 per cent by the end of June.

"When we survey in Swansea again in December I expect to find more closures."

Tough

Vice-chairman of Swansea's Business Improvement District, Peter Birch, admitted conditions were tough. He said: "I know traders in the city who are struggling big time and who are having to put second mortgages on their homes in the hope that things will pick up in the times ahead. If banks come through and help small businesses and put more confidence in them then that would help."

And Public Sector cuts yet to come.

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