SHOPS in Furness are thriving despite new research declaring store closures in 2018 being among the highest in the North West.

Analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers of the 66,463 outlets across Great Britain – run by retailers operating more than five sites have labelled north west high streets including Barrow and Blackpool - as among the worst for shop closures in the UK.

However, the high streets in Ulverston Barrow and Millom have all seen new shop openings across the past few months. These include the accessories shop, Expressions, sensory space shop Aura 11, Gift Box Ltd, Haverigg Shop, Laura’s Floral Designs and Blade Barbers in Millom.

Mandy Evans, owner of Studio 82, described how lucky residents are to have such a wide choice of independent stores.

She said: “We are lucky in Barrow to have some lovely independent stores.

“At the end of the day, they provide Barrovians with jobs and support the community.

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“However, we need to get more people back into the town and keep the money in Barrow.”

Simon Craig, chair of Barrow BID, argues the town’s high percentage of national retailers creates a warped perception of store closures overall.

He said: “Very few independent stores in Barrow close.

“It’s the national retailers which have a hard time competing with the internet.

“The opening of new shops lately will hopefully breathe back some life into the town. We’ve got to get more people using the high street and want to return.”