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Marlborough's high street named most vital in the South West

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Marlborough High StMarlborough High StMarlborough's historic high street has been named the most vital in the south-west.

The annual Vitality Index from retail property consultants Harper Dennis Hobbs looked at the number of vacant retail units as well as the number of bookmakers, payday lenders, and pawnbrokers.

Marlborough ranked 10th in the index of 1,000 retail locations – which includes malls like Cribbs Causeway near Bristol, which despite having no bookmakers, payday lenders or pawnbrokers ranked 18th.

Cambridge, with a vacancy rate of 5.7 percent, was named the most healthy high street in the UK, followed by Westfield, Knightsbridge, and Chelsea in West London, Bluewater in Kent Richmond and Wimbledon Village, both in South West London, Canary Wharf in East London, and London West End.

Jonathan De Mello, head of retail consultancy at Harper Dennis Hobbs, said: “While the big cities and most prominent shopping malls should absolutely be a key priority for any retailer trading in the UK, this research highlights the fact that small but flourishing towns and suburbs can be viable retail locations, particularly as rents are typically more affordable.

“The Vitality Ranking is a unique approach to assessing retail centres. By scoring centres based upon a number of aspects that both retailers and shoppers think of when they consider a quality retail environment, HDH provides a different perspective to rankings based solely on size or total sales.

“The changing face of the high street means retailers need to be confident their investment is likely to pay off.

"Quality retailers don’t want to be surrounded by empty units, discount stores and betting shops, which are a clear indicator of deprivation in the area.”

Taking the title of least vital shopping destination for a second time was Byker Shields in Newcastle – where nearly one in five retail units are vacant – followed by Stretford in Greater Manchester and Kirkby in Merseyside.