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Big public events play a part in keeping shops open
4:00pm Thursday 17th October 2013 in Opinion
Nationally there are regularly news stories which bemoan the fate of our high streets.
A picture is often painted of town centres seemingly in terminal decline in the face of out of town shopping complexes, the rise of internet shopping and other financial pressures.
It is true that many towns have seen a reduction in the number of small, independent and family-owned traders.
In South Lakeland there are fewer butchers and greengrocers, for example, than there used to be.
But it was heartening this week that new figures show that the percentage of empty shops in our local towns compares very favourably with elsewhere in the country.
While empty shops are running at 14.1 per cent nationally and a staggering 20.1 per cent in the North West as a whole, in Kendal the figure is 12.35 per cent (an improve-ment on previous counts), while in Ulverston it is 8.9 per cent and in Windermere it is 2.5 per cent.
Even when shops do close, for whatever reason, there seems to be no shortage of enterprising traders willing to take them on and open a new store.
Kendal has plenty of national chains, such as Top Shop, TK Maxx and Marks and Spencer, but is also blessed by a plethora of jewellers, bike shops and key cobblers, plus a host of specialist retailers selling everything from running gear to fishing tackle.
Some people might argue there are too many charity shops, but they add to the mix and would not exist if there was not a demand for them.
Our town centres are helped by big public events that attract locals and tourists.
Ulverston has its festivals: Kendal has Torchlight, Mintfest, the mountain festival and new events like Woolfest and the Comic Art festival.
Such events bring huge economic benefits to our area and it is arguable that more public funding should be earmarked to help them – and local towns – thrive.
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