Stamford and the Deepings have the best retail occupancy rates in South Kesteven
Stamford and the Deepings still have some of the best high street occupancy rates in South Kesteven.
A district council report says the rates have dropped marginally compared with last year, but the average vacancy rate at 6.8 per cent is far better than the national average of 11.8 per cent.
Stamford has 12 vacant units out of 332 shops, giving a vacancy rate of 3.6 per cent.
Market Deeping reported one empty unit out of 70, giving a 1.27 per cent vacancy rate and Bourne had 11 out of 164 units empty, giving a vacancy rate of 6.71 per cent.
The report to South Kesteven District Council's finance, economic development and corporate services overview committee said: “The town centre in Stamford still retains good footfall with the quality of shops which are within the centre.”
Bourne has a cluster of vacancies in North Street and West Street, with the closure of Rutland Sport and William Hill helping increase empty unit numbers by one over the past three months.
Market Deeping continued to have low rates and “the continued housing and residential growth of the town should have a positive effect on the town centre footfall,” it said.
Grantham, however, was worst hit with 48 of 306 shops affected, giving it a vacancy rate of 15.69 per cent.
Steve Bowyer, chief executive of InvestSK called it 'encouraging' to see South Kesteven’s vacancy rates sit well below the national average.
As the council's economic regeneration company, InvestSK has helped six businesses move into empty town centre units through its Town Centre Investment Fund, which Mr Bowyer said is boosting the retail offering across the market towns.
Stores to benefit from the SKDC-financed fund this year included Iris and Violet, a clothing store on St Mary’s Hill in Stamford.
Mr Bowyer said Stamford, Bourne and the Deepings have better occupancy rates from having more independent stores, less affected by nationwide closure programmes.
He added: “We’re piloting some new initiatives to support independent traders, attract footfall to the town centres and encourage more vibrancy on our high streets. For example, bringing vacant units back into use as pop-up shops and art galleries.”