Economic downturn hits Leigh Park traders hardest in UK

113195-6038 LEIGH PARK SHOPS (JT) MRW ''Many of the shops at both The Greywell Shopping Centre and Park Parade shops at Leigh Park near Havant have shut-down and closed '''Picture: Malcolm Wells (113195-6038)
113195-6038 LEIGH PARK SHOPS (JT) MRW ''Many of the shops at both The Greywell Shopping Centre and Park Parade shops at Leigh Park near Havant have shut-down and closed '''Picture: Malcolm Wells (113195-6038)
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LEIGH Park has the most empty shops in Britain, according to a retail report out today.

Figures suggest Leigh Park has been hardest-hit by the economic downturn that has gripped the country.

The report says 36.4 per cent of shops are empty - just beating Margate, in Kent, which had a vacancy rate of 36.1 per cent.

Other towns topping the list include Blackpool and Stockport.

Traders in Leigh Park today said they were shocked by the report by Local Data Company, which provides statistics on retailing.

Mike Joines, who has owned Zoom Hairdressing in Park Parade for the last 10 years, said: ‘I am surprised actually.

‘It’s probably true but we must be a shining light out there.

‘We have increased employment and capacity over the years. In my particular business, we are not showing any signs of any recession.’

Mr Joines said many shops had become empty due to spiralling rents over the years and the changing ownership of the buildings in Park Parade.

He said parking charges were also preventing new businesses from coming in when shoppers could park for free for long periods at nearby Asda and Tesco.

He said two new shop tenants had moved in the last month.

Mr Joines added: ‘If you have the right business, you will survive and thrive in Leigh Park.’