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Retail signs looking good for city centre

PUBLISHED: 09:48 18 April 2013 | UPDATED: 09:48 18 April 2013

Shoppers in Gentlemans Walk , Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Shoppers in Gentlemans Walk , Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Norwich city centre is showing signs of the economic “bounce back” identified in a new national retail survey.

However, high streets in other towns across Norfolk are still locked in a struggle against the economic downturn.

The divided picture has emerged after a study carried out for the charity Action for Market Towns which points to an improving situation for traders across Britain.

The survey, based on research in 83 towns, showed that footfall has increased by 18pc at “busy” times of the day since 2011 – although the figure is still 22pc down on 2009.

Meanwhile, the average number of vacant units in towns is 8pc (down from 9pc last year)

A spokesman for the Norwich Business Improvement District (Bid) said, so far this year, weeks unaffected by poor weather had shown significant increases in footfall – 12pc for one week in January – compared to last year.

The city’s vacant shops rate remained well below the national average and there had been an encouraging influx of new businesses, including Jamie Oliver’s restaurant and the retailer JoJo Maman Bébé.

She said: “Norwich remains in the top 10 for shopping retail destinations in the UK.”

Painting a less buoyant picture, Great Yarmouth town centre manager Jonathan Newman said: “During the last four months of 2012 footfall was up 1.4pc against 2011 but, influenced by the weather, it has been down an average of 2pc so far in 2013.”

Chairman of Cromer Chamber of Trade Tracey Khalil said while traders were “cautiously optimistic”, there was little sign of footfall increasing.

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