Christmas trade ‘better than expected’ in Burnley shops

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BURNLEY traders are weathering the economic storm, according to new figures.

Town centre shops reported a slight increase in visitor numbers for 2011 compared to 2010. Christmas trading was particularly encouraging with a 10% rise in visitors during Christmas week.

Burnley Chamber of Trade chairman Mr Brian Hobbs also revealed that town centre vacancy rates are below average at around 13% in the core town centre and 17% in the wider Burnley centre – both slightly improved on the last audit and in some cases well below both national and local averages.

He said: “This is certainly helped by the fact that while some of our existing businesses have gone, new ones are opening up – again a good sign of confidence. We had slightly more new openings in 2011 than the previous two years.”

Mr Hobbs said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the future of Burnley town centre and pointed to the planned Charter Walk investment as a sign large companies had a lot of faith in the town.

He added: “A sign of the health of any area is the willingness of businesses to invest in it and if we add in our vibrant night time economy and the planned refurbishment of some of the venues we can see that confidence levels are remarkably high.”

Burnley Market continues to buck the national trend with occupancy levels at 85% compared to a national average of under 75% and Charter Walk is very strong at 94% occupied.

Outside the town centre and around the rest of Burnley, Mr Hobbs revealed Chamber members were reporting better than expected business performance with Christmas having been “better than expected” in most cases and “not as bad as we expected” in others.