Market Harborough’s “vital and vibrant” town centre has been praised by an expert from the British Independents Retailers Association (Bira).
The association’s deputy chief executive officer Michael Weedon said: “Market Harborough is a great place to be and to spend time and money. We should all cherish this. I do.”
Responding to an article on new shops in last week’s Mail, Mr Weedon highlighted five reasons to be optimistic about the town centre:
(1) Shop vacancy. In Market Harborough, the shop vacancy rate is down to just three per cent. The national average is 12.4 per cent.
(2) Shop churn. This is the name given to shop openings and closings. Again in Market Harborough it is low - two percent, whereas nationally one in seven shops (14 per cent) changes hands every year.
(3) Parking. Mr Weedon said the town had a good parking policy, with a mixture of free and reasonably-priced paid-for spaces.
(4) A revitalised market. Agreat example of the value of the whole shopping mix, said Mr Weedon.
(5) The lack of out-of-town shops. Market Harborough has a “subdued” out-of-town presence, said Mr Weedon, keeping the vast majority of businesses and therefore shoppers in the vibrant town centre.
Mr Weedon was responding to an article in the Mail, which highlighted new shops that had just arrived or were opening soon in the town.
He said: “It’s so much more alive than many of the places I visit across the country in my role as a director of Bira.
“Fortunately I live here, so I get to spend time in a thriving market town.”
Vice president of Market Harborough Chamber of Commerce Alastair Campbell told the Mail last week: “I think we’re bucking the national trend for two reasons.
“Firstly we’ve got a good mix of national retailers and really interesting independent shops.
“And secondly the council has done a very good job in not having too many out-of-town retail outlets.”