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SOUTH Lakeland is doing better than national and regional high streets in the number of empty shops, according to the district council.

SLDC said today that closed shops are running at 14.1 per cent nationally and 20.1 per cent in the north west - but the figure in South Lakeland is far lower than both at 6.7 per cent.

Empty shop numbers are collected every quarter in Kendal, Ulverston, Kirkby Lonsdale, Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside, by the council.

South Lakeland’s biggest high street is in Kendal where of 437 shops surveyed earlier this month and 54 were empty. It means an empty shop rate of 12.35 per cent.

SLDC said this 'compares favourably' against two previous counts which indicated 60 empty shops in Kendal, or a rate of 13.69 per cent.

Bowness, Ambleside and Windermere have also seen a drop in empty shop numbers during the last quarter, said the authority.

Six new shops have opened in Kendal, three in Bowness and two in Ambleside.

The empty shop rate in all of the South Lakeland district towns is below the North West average of 20.1 per cent and the national average of 14.1 per cent.

Other towns monitored include: Kirkby Lonsdale (4.29 per cent closed) Ambleside (5.4 per cent) Ulverston (8.9 per cent) Bowness (5.3 per cent) Windermere (2.5 per cent) Coun Giles Archibald, portfolio holder for Town Centres and Small Business, said: “In Kendal and across South Lakeland we have more shops per capita than in other town centres because of our tourism culture.

"The fact that we have more shops and a high occupancy rate shows a positive outlook for the road ahead and our local retail economy.”