By Vittorio Hernandez

London, England, United Kingdom

The number of High Street shops in Britain that are closing is going up as the country stays stuck in a slowing economy marked by declining consumer spending.

According to a report published Thursday by Local Data Company, one in seven High Street shops has been shuttered. In poorer districts, vacancy rates are an alarming one in three outlets.

The report identified the worst hit shopping district as Leigh Park in Havant, near Portsmouth, which overtook Margate.

Among large shopping centers, Stockport and Blackpool both showed vacancy rates above 25 percent, while for medium-sized centers Dudley and West Bromwich were worst hit with almost 30 percent vacancy rates.

The report confirmed figures released on Tuesday by the British Retail Consortium that retail sales dipped last month due to weak consumer confidence and a high inflation rate.

One High Street retailer that reported major decline in sales is the Home Retail Group, which registered an 8.6 percent dip in comparable sales for the past 13 weeks up to Aug. 27 in Argos and 3.1 percent in Homebase.

Total sales went down 7.1 percent in Argos and 3.8 percent in Homebase.

The group attributed the weaker sales to slow movement of consumer electronic gadgets. Home Group Chief Executive Terry Duddy said he was not surprised by the recent developments because they expected a slump in demand, particularly in the consumer electronics segment.

Consumers who still shop have temporarily stayed away from the High Street outlets and instead sought out-of-town shopping malls where prices are more affordable.


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World - Number of Closed High Street Shops Up | Global Viewpoint