The town’s in good shape to avoid empty shops curse

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BUSINESS leaders are confident that Spalding is avoiding the problem of having too many empty shops in the town centre.

Phil Scarlett, president of Spalding and District Area Chamber of Commerce, said the small number of empty shops compared favourably with other towns in England.

He added that interest was being shown by potential occupiers in sites such as the former Wimpy restaurant in Market Place.

“What we’re seeing in Spalding is the normal ebb and flow of retailers coming and going,” Mr Scarlett said. “As I look round the town, I see empty shops like Wimpy that seem to sit there longer than is healthy. But it does change over time and it changes quite rapidly.

“Spalding is very fortunate because many of the properties are owned by private individuals who want to fill them quite quickly by being flexible with rents. One of our other advantages is that shop units here are generally not as large which allows traders to get through difficult times.”

Mr Scarlett’s comments were supported by Tim Humphrey, of Brown and Co Business Consultants, who said the town was in better shape than neighbouring places such as Boston and Grantham.

“It’s a difficult market at the moment because retailers in Spalding are under significant pressure from competing sources such as Springfields and the internet. Business rates are also an issue but, generally, Spalding is quite resilient and the town is holding its own.

“It’s faring better than competitors like Boston, Grantham and Peterborough where there are a lot more empty shops.

“The market tends to sort itself out because landlords and property owners aren’t in the business of keeping their premises empty.”