Staffordshire towns blighted by empty shops
Almost one in every 10 shops in Cannock and the surrounding towns are lying empty.
But while the town centres are suffering, out of town retail parks are booming. A designer outlet village outlet is also due to be created, bringing 800 jobs and 130 new shops.
The latest figures show how the situation in the centres is getting worse, despite council bosses pledging to try to drive the numbers down.
There are currently 31 empty shops in Cannock, Hednesford and Rugeley – nine per cent of the total number of units. In March, 30 shops stood empty.
Cannock has 13 empty shops, Rugeley seven and Hednesford 11 – a total of 31 shops out of a possible 345.
A report to Cannock Chase Council's cabinet, which meets on Thursday to discuss the problem, says: "The council is trying to influence market conditions or the decisions of independent or national retailers over which it has no control.
"At the end of quarter two, the number of vacant units in the three town centres showed a small increase against the March 2014 benchmark and currently stands at nine per cent of total stock.
"This is the result of additional vacancies in Hednesford town centre and the demise of Phones 4U. However, the current rate of nine per cent is still well below the national average of 13.4 per cent.
"The council will continue to work with key stakeholders on initiatives to secure new businesses and further investment in the town centre."
Out of the town centres, a new Iceland store, called the Food Warehouse, is opening on the Linkway retail park, Cannock, today. Poundland, Dunelm and Brantano have also recently opened.
Meanwhile, Cannock is also getting its first Marks & Spencer store. The Simply Food branch is moving onto the Orbital retail site, off the A5, into premises formerly occupied by Comet.
Council leader George Adamson said: "We currently have 13 empty shops in Cannock town centre. I think there are too many charity shops, but I hope that when Mill Green designer village opens it will attract a greater variety of stores to the town."
The Mill Green outlet village is due to to be built off Lichfield Road.
The latest figures show that in the first six months of this year, 265 stores closed across the West Midlands and only 198 opened – a net loss of 67 shops.
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