A survey of commercial properties in Ilfracombe, North Devon has established a vacancy rate of just 9.6%. The national average is reported to be 14.6%.Â The survey conducted by COMBEbusiness on Monday 7 May 2012 covered 271 properties comprising the seaside town’s high street, seafront and harbour areas.
Of the businesses trading in this main retail area, 152 are shops and 86 are food outlets.
“While trading conditions are tough for retailers everywhere, Ilfracombe is maintaining its status as one of the largest retail destinations in North Devon,” said Robert Zarywacz, chairman of COMBEbusiness.
“New shops continue to open and closures have been few. In the past year new openings included an indoor market, television and electrical store, two delis, bicycle shop and insurance broker.
“We are now conducting this survey regularly after the Local Data Company claimed a much higher vacancy rate for the town last year. We can point to the exact date of our surveys and define the premises surveyed to give a precise record.”
“There are a number of retail opportunities for new and existing businesses. The resort is on the South West Coast path and has just been awarded ‘Walkers are Welcome’ status, so there is clearly potential for outdoor and walking outlets. More clothing stores would also be welcome to add to the buzz of the shopping district.
“Ilfracombe is becoming more widely known for the wide range of fresh, local and speciality foods available from its two butchers, two bakers, wet fishmonger, greengrocer, delis and health food shops, and chocolate and confectionery stores.”
Visitors and shoppers like Ilfracombe for its independent stores and lack of national multiple retailers and this has been confirmed by market research commissioned by Ilfracombe Town Council.
Robert concluded: “This is a fantastic achievement in such tough times and we thank all our retailers and cafe/restaurant/pub owners for their hard work in keeping the town open for business.”