Burnley town centre shops buck economic trend

Chamber of Trade President Mr Brian Hobbs in Burnley Town Centre. 'Photo Ben Parsons
Chamber of Trade President Mr Brian Hobbs in Burnley Town Centre. 'Photo Ben Parsons

TRADE in Burnley is holding its own and bucking the trend despite the closure of some stores in the town centre, according to business owners.

Town centre bosses also said two major events, the Blues Festival, in May, and the Celebrity Soccer Six tournament, in June, were good news for Burnley and would help boost the economy.

At a meeting of Burnley and District Chamber of Trade, president Mr Brian Hobbs said he was confident Burnley was faring well during difficult economic times for retailers.

“We need to keep the positive message coming. Recently I’ve had half-a-dozen people comment on empty shops in the town centre,” he said.

“They see it as further decline of the shopping centre. We’ve got to stop this negative sentiment taking over.

“Good things are round the corner. I’ve also looked at out-of-town shopping and Burnley is faring better against some other towns.”

Charter Walk manager Mr Chris Gribben said work on the £3m. development to transform Market Square was under way.

The project will involve the removal of the existing outside first-floor walkways and staircases, where W H Smith, River Island, Ryman’s and Superdrug are currently located, to create double-height units as well as the redevelopment of the square itself.

“Superdrug is on the brink of closure and relocation to the former Clintons card shop, they open this week on the new site.

“W H Smith is looking at relocation and there are one or two other signings on the horizon.”

He said the new Market Square development would attract new stores to Burnley and create more space for existing businesses.

He said trading over Easter had been “a mixed bag.”

“It depends very much on the type of trade and expectations from how they performed last year.

“We’ve even had mixed reports among smaller traders. There’s no doubt we are still in interesting times, but there’s no steady trend to suggest things are improving significantly, whether you are measuring by vacancy rates or footfall.

“Burnley is still holding its own and bucking the trend.”

He added the town had plenty to look forward to over the summer months.

“It’s very very unusual for a town to be chosen for Soccer Six twice. The blues festival and Soccer Six are a couple of very positive events which should attract a lot of business.”