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“Empty shops in the town centre remain a concern” however town footfall increased in last 12 months

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Wednesday, Dec 12th, 2018.

The number of empty shops in the town centre “remains a concern”, however footfall figures are on the up new figures have shown.

A report presented to executive board members provided an update on the performance of a cross sector of topics – such as the town, education, housing and social care – and how it measures against the council plan.

Within the report it is noted that there is concern around the number of empty shops in town, with the “number of national retail chains undertaking store closures” cited as a factor impacting vacancy rates in the town.

As a result the performance in the previous quarter is ‘red’ – which is more than 5 per cent worse than the 2018/2019 target of 12.50 per cent.

It is also noted that: “The current position remains above the Wales average of 12.5 per cent and UK Highstreet average of 9.2 per cent.

“Continuing to develop a changing town centre landscape by delivering the objectives in the Town centre masterplan which will inform our new LDP will be critical to reducing this decline.”

Despite common belief (and ignored corrections) on and offline Wrexham Council do not own all shops in the town nor do they have any control over the rents of privately owned retail space. Wrexham Council are also not responsible for setting business rates.

Of the 22 shops actually owned by the local authority in the town centre, only three are vacant.

There is work ongoing in the town centre to fill and smarten up empty units. Eagles Meadow, which has been affected by a number of high street closures this year, with Savills, alongside Emanuel Oliver, recently appointed as leasing agent at the shopping centre.

A series of vinyls have also been installed on the empty properties in recent weeks.

Regeneration work is also underway on Henblas Square, with property developers Mandale are investing more than £4m into buying and renovating the vacant shopping centre.

The 10,000 sq ft former BHS premises has also been to an as yet-unnamed major sports retailer who are set to move into the unit in early 2019.

The report also notes that footfall in the town centre has steadily increased over the past 12 months. However as reported previously, this does not necessarily mean that sales have increased in local shops.

The footfall data itself is provided by an electronic pedestrian / footfall tracker which was installed at the corner of Hope Street and Regent Street – between Barclays Bank and WH Smith – in 2017.

New data show there has been a 33 per cent increase in numbers in Q1 (April to June) this year compared to the same period last year.

These figures fell however between July to September, which is thought to be because of the improvement works taking place on Hope Street and Regent Street.

Earlier this year Wrexham.com reported that the introduction of a second footfall counter on the High Street saw the weekly footfall for April increase between 102 per cent and 156 per cent during the month; with figures in the high 130,000s – 140,000 compared to the low 60,000s of 2017.

Top pic: Town in the sun before the new paving!

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