Shop owners say this is why there's 'so many' empty shops in Chichester

We spoke to shop owners about the empty shop issue and if there’s anything they’d like to see happen to improve the situation in the city.
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A study by online supermarket Britsuperstore has suggested that Chichester has the third highest number of empty shops in the UK, with 39.2 empty shops per 100,000 people. That’s three times the national average.

Kelly, who runs Cherry Vintage selling vintage-inspired clothing and accessories, has noticed the trend too and said: “Independent shops, even bigger chains, don't really last long here. A year seems to be the normality.”

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It’s such a shame because setting up and running a shop takes a lot of time and money. When they close, the shops often stay empty for years."

Chichester, West Sussex.Chichester, West Sussex.
Chichester, West Sussex.

Kelly believes that high rent prices are a significant factor contributing to the high turnover of shops. She added: “Some landlords ask for £5,000 or more per month, which makes it hard for businesses to survive.”

Kelly also thinks ‘lower rents could encourage more businesses to open up and make the city more appealing to visitors’

Another issue pointed out by the shop manager is the rising cost of parking in the city. "Parking charges have gone up, and they now charge until 8 p.m.," she said. "This could put people off coming to us for a meal or to go shopping as they have to pay for parking."

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Kelly believes that offering free parking for the first two hours could help bring more people into the city and support local businesses. "Free parking could encourage more people to visit Chichester and spend time and money in the shops and restaurants.”

Bill Strohacker, the owner of KUNST art gallery in Chichester also echoed Kelly Mitchell’s concerns. He said: “Because the rates are so high, smaller independent businesses are getting priced out of the market.

"So all you’re getting are bigger chains, and some of them don’t want to be here either. The rates and rents seem to be the biggest reason for the amount of empty shops in Chichester. Unless something changes, it’s going to be a very sticky situation.”

Sussex World will be investigating this further.

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