Retailers warned to focus on digital sales

A report from the British Retail Consortium has warned stores that more focus needs to be paid to online sales, as increasing empty shop rates cause concern.

While Worthing in particular, which has seen several new stores open in recent months and recorded figures below the national 11.3 per cent vacancy levels at around 10 per cent, has experienced problem areas.

The most pressing fears centre on Portland Road, which has empty store rates nearly double the national average, standing at a troubling 20 per cent.
As a result, Worthing Town Centre Initiative is now actively lobbying West Sussex County Council for funding to enhance central retail areas including Portland Road and Montague Street.

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However, according to the retail consortium’s report, it has found the number of empty shops on high streets has hit the highest level since its survey began last summer.

Dan Wagner, chairman of mPowa, expressed his concern and believed that having a balance between high street and online retail is economically vital.

He said: “Consumers have become more demanding in the way they purchase goods than ever before.

“Mobile handsets and tablets mean shoppers have myriad choices on how, what and when they buy.

“The challenge for retailers in West Sussex is to ensure they have a variety of platforms. Many retailers who have not got a comprehensive multichannel strategy are suffering severe consequences as result.”