Up to a third of shops in a Stafford town centre street are vacant, the Express & Star can reveal today.
Eight of 24 shops in Princes Street in the town centre are empty, although the main shopping street, Greengate Street, has four units unoccupied. There are also a further three empty units in the Guildhall Shopping Centre, one in Crabbery Street, two in Eastgate Street and one more in Salter Street.
Council chiefs say the overall vacancy rate of eight per cent for Stafford compares well with the national picture which has a national vacancy rate of 14.3 per cent.
Traders in Princes Street say they are doing well despite the high vacancy rate there but would like to see greater footfall in the street, as well as a replacement for Farmfoods which recently closed.
Figures show there are 319 shop units across Stafford town centre.
Jonathan Andrew, president of the Stafford Chamber of Commerce, said he believed the issue of empty units in areas like Princes Street was down to the size of them.
"I do think Stafford is doing quite well compared to empty shops nationally," he said.
"The difficulty we have is there are the wrong kind of retail units available for rent.
"A number of retailers want to move to Stafford but they are being held back as the units are too small."
Richard Caddy, spokesman for Stafford Borough Council, said: "Shop vacancy rates in Stafford have remained stable at between seven and eight per cent for the last two years, which is well below the national average.
"Stafford has thriving shopping, with a uniquely 50:50 split between independent and national outlets.
"We have a constant programme of town centre events designed to bring in trade and a town centre partnership with over 100 members. We also have two major retail developments due to get under way in the town centre."