NEWS that the number of empty shops is coming down nationally has been welcomed by leaders in Burton and South Derbyshire.
Statistics published by the Local Data Company suggest there are now only 14 per cent of shops which are unoccupied – the lowest rate in four years.
Council leaders in the area said these figures represented an improvement which was also clear to see locally.
Frank McArdle, chief executive of South Derbyshire District Council, said: “Swadlincote is consistently below the national average vacancy rates for retail premises.
“Just last week it was announced that the national retailer Peacocks is taking over the largest available single retail unit on Swadlincote High Street.
“This investment of 8,000 sq ft of floor space will add to the range of clothes for women, men and children available in the town.
“The outdoor market has prospered and was voted the best small retail market in 2013.
“With such diverse businesses and free parking, the district council works hard to ensure that South Derbyshire as a whole, and Swadlincote in this instance, are open for business.”
A quick count in Burton showed there were more than 25 unoccupied units in the town centre – many of them in the Octagon Centre – but representatives on East Staffordshire Borough Council remain optimistic.
Councillor Richard Grosvenor, leader of the authority, said: “It’s pleasing to see that national shop vacancy rates are at their lowest for four years. East Staffordshire Borough Council is making a significant investment in the local economy by supporting businesses to allow them to grow and prosper.”
He pointed to the popular business development fund, which has already helped Alphabet Gift Shop move into Union Street.
“By supporting local businesses the council is able to contribute to the attraction of Burton town centre,” he added.