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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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One in 10 Carlisle city centre shops now standing empty

One in 10 shops in Carlisle city centre are standing empty as retailers suffer from stagnating sales and rising costs.

Emoty shops photo
Empty shops at Earls Lane, Carlisle

Of the city’s 217 shops – outside of The Lanes Shopping Centre – 33 are currently vacant. The Lanes has 77 units – seven of them are empty.

The worst affected area of the city is the Earls Lane Shopping Centre, by the bus station, where eight shops are empty. Only five – Coco Bay, Toymaster, the Games Workshop, Home Bargains and a bus station tickets office – are open.

A stretch along the main shopping area of the city – along English Street – also has a number of closed stores. These include the former Clarks shop and the former Alternative Christmas pop-up shop.

Bank Street, Fisher Street and Castle Street have no empty shops.

So far this year in Carlisle, Comet, Jessops, Blockbuster, Toys ‘R’ Us and Famous Names have closed their doors. Homeware store Living Inspiration on English Street is due to close shortly and fashion chain Republic, which has a branch in The Lanes, collapsed into administration early yesterday.

But despite the doom and gloom, business leaders and shopping centre bosses say Carlisle isn’t too bad compared to other cities.

Colin Glover, deputy leader of Carlisle City Council – who also has responsibility for economy and enterprise – said: “At the moment Carlisle is punching above its weight and when you look at other cities for the number of shop closures it isn’t too bad.

“There are sites like Chapmans on the Viaduct that get snapped up quickly and there are others that aren’t getting filled as quickly.

“Although we didn’t get any cash from the Mary Portas bid (to rejuvenate city and town centres) we are already doing things that she suggests such as doing up empty units with art work to make vacant shops look nicer.

“People often make comments and suggest that the council should reduce rents to attract tenants in but we don’t own all of the units. A lot of them are privately owned so we can’t do anything about it.”

David Jackson, commercial director of The Lanes Shopping Centre, said: “The figures for Carlisle aren’t actually that bad.

“We had a strong offering last week on one of our units which is good news. The frustrating thing for us, and our landlord, is that we have strong enquiries for space but often we just don’t have enough room for what the retailers want. Some of our existing retailers want twice the amount of space they’ve got now and there are others who want to be here. There is strong demand for Carlisle but sometimes we just can’t offer what the retailers want.”

Government Minister Brandon Lewis has agreed to meet representatives from the city council to talk about deals and business growth ideas.

Mr Glover said: “I was at a conference last week and I asked Mr Lewis what could be done for cities like Carlisle. He spoke to us after the conference and we are going to write to him to arrange a meeting. We would like to see what ideas he has.”

Nationally, stores selling books, CDs and DVDs, electrical items, home furnishings, menswear, and holidays have been hardest hit, along with off-licences, bars and pubs.

THE LANES SHOPPING CENTRE - 77 shop units - 7 empty

CASTLE STREET - 15 shops - 0 empty

FISHER STREET - 16 shops - 0 empty

SCOTCH STREET - 30 shops - 2 empty

LOWTHER STREET - 34 shops - 6 empty

DEVONSHIRE STREET - 11 shops - 4 empty

BUS STATION - 5 shops - 8 empty

ENGLISH STREET - 41 shops - 7 empty

GREENMARKET - 4 shops - 1 empty

BANK STREET - 16 shops - 0 empty at street level

TOP OF WARWICK ROAD - 15 shops - 2 empty

LONSDALE STREET - 12 shops - 2 empty

THE CRESCENT - 12 shops - 0 empty

CROSBY STREET - 6 shops - 1 empty

  • The News & Star did not count the empty units on Botchergate, just those in the city centre. We did not include nightclubs, banks or offices in the count.

 

Have your say

Maybe if the rent was less they would be able to get new businesses started,with rents around the £35000 mark its unlikely any new business could afford to be there I know I can't

Posted by Richard Farish on 21 May 2013 at 13:44

I like shopping but most staff usually yapping take no interest in old day they could not do enough to help you to close a deal we need shops like primark that will bring in other Cumbrian ppl more that come in the more money it generates

Posted by Colleen green on 20 February 2013 at 09:19

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