Report reveals Stowmarket high street is performing better than ever
A Suffolk town’s high street is performing better than ever, according to a new report.
Data from retail performance insight providers, Springboard, shows Stowmarket town centre currently has a street-level retail unit vacancy rate of 3.8% – an all-time low.
The rate is below other towns in the east of England, and well below the national average of 10.4%.
The east of England average is 6.8%
Dawn Easter, economic development officer for Mid Suffolk and Babergh district councils, said the rate was a reflection of people choosing to shop in the town following a “strong amount” of housing being built in Stowmarket.
Last year the town’s vacancy rate was 5.6%.
Mrs Easter said: “There’s an interesting mix of high street chains and independent high street shops.
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“Thankfully there isn’t much you can’t buy in Stowmarket town centre.
“You can pretty much get whatever you want.”
Mrs Easter also said the figures reflected local confidence that people are willing to go out and spend money in the town.
“I think it’s an indicative trend. People are spending more time and money in Stowmarket,” she added.
Mrs Easter said there were other things making the high street a success, including the opening of the bridge to the Cedars Park estate, making the town centre more accessible to residents, as well as cheap car parks in close proximity to the high street.
“The high street has changed, there are more things to do. The town centre used to be a place to shop, but now there are other things people want to do.”
Mrs Easter said the only downside to the high street’s success was that there wasn’t much scope for new businesses to come in, and there were plans to regenerate the town centre.
“When businesses do leave, the spaces do get snapped up pretty quickly,” she said.
“The council has a long-term aspiration to regenerate the town centre, which will see more floor space open up in time, but now is not the time.
“We’re keeping an eye on it to see when the time is right to invest.”
David Blackburn, clerk to Stowmarket Town Council, said: “The town council is pleased and encouraged by the lack of vacant retail units. With a town growing as fast as Stowmarket there is a real demand for retail units.”