Liverpool angered by retail void claims

Michael Hunt

Jack Stopforth, chief executive of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, has robustly countered the claims Liverpool city centre has a high number of retail voids, following research carried out by the Local Data Company.

He said: "We believe that the figures released by the Local Data Company are inaccurate."

"Across the entire city centre footfall hits a weekly average of 500,000 with post 2008 facilities such as the Arena and Convention Centre and cruise liner terminal contributing to the city's retail demand.

"I can categorically state that Liverpool is not losing retailers to other cities or out-of-town retailers, in fact 65 brands are now available in the city that are new to shoppers in the region due to new opportunities provided by Liverpool One. Liverpool recorded on 18% rise in visitors over the last twelve months and is now placed fifth nationally as a desirable retail destination."

Last week a report by LDC claimed the recession had hit the independent stores the hardest and said the north of England was the worst performing region.

According to figures released by the researcher, Liverpool city centre had over 20% of its retail capacity vacant.

Ged Gibbons, chief executive of Liverpool's Business Improvement District added: "The actual number of city centre voids according to figures compiled on behalf of Liverpool's BID is fewer than 10%."

"Of this number, some are premises currently being refurbished yet still count as 'voids', other voids are as a result of businesses moving from one premises to another, many, such as Top Shop and Marks & Spencer enlarging their premises, highlighting their commitment to the city. Liverpool also boasts a thriving independent retail quarters including Bold Street and Ropewalks, providing a diversity of retail offer that many locations would struggle to match."

The research done by LDC is also a cause for concern for Chris Bliss, estate director for Grosvenor's Liverpool One. He said: "Liverpool One has massively increased the retail critical mass within the city and has attracted a footfall of over 22m shoppers in its first year and at 42 acres, is largest retail development in Europe. We have 96% occupancy, on par with that of a mature development in healthy trading conditions. We are delighted to achieve this and are focused on meeting demand for 'quality' brands."

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