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News - 11 December 2009

Brighton's independent retail sector continues to stand firm

The latest vacancy rate figures for December 2009 released by the Brighton & Hove Business Forum indicate a sustaining strength in the independent sector that defies the recession.

Vacancy in the North Laine has fallen slightly overall from 5% in March to 4.89 and in the Lanes it has fallen from 5.6% to 5% over the same period.

In the North Laine two streets just outside the Business Improvement District (BID) area have shown increases in vacancy;Trafalgar St has risen from 9% to 14% and Gloucester Road has risen from 7.7% to 9.6%. 

The overall rate for the city centre as a whole tells a different story however. Here we see an increase from 6.9% to 7.8%. Some streets have suffered more than others and this has been due to multiple retailers and banks closing. Queens Road for example has recently lost Lloyds TSB and Specsavers amongst others and vacancy has gone from 7.6% to 9.8%. It is worth pointing out that this is still well below the national benchmark of 12.5%.

Vacancy in North Street appears to have stabilised at 10.8%. And while the south side of the street continues to be more problematic than the north, the latter is beginning to show cracks as well with the Javu and Clipso sites still standing empty after many months.

Some of the properties in North Street have been vacant for a long time while administration negotiations are going through even though new tenants are waiting in the wings to move in and start trading. This has also made it difficult to window dress the vacant premises as access has been denied.

Preston Street continues to be an area of concern with vacancy now running at 17.4% compared with 11.6% in March. This street was posing a challenge prior to the recession taking hold and has struggled to maintain the improvement that it experienced between October 2008 and March 2009 when vacancy fell from 13% to 11.6%.

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