New Shrewsbury business defying national trend of decline in out-of-town retail parks

Bosses at a new furniture store on the outskirts of Shrewsbury say they have had a great opening month - bucking national figures which say retail parks are the surprise victims in the tough economic climate.

A national survey found that out-of-town retails parks had suffered the biggest decline in shop numbers in the first half of 2013, with the rate of empty units rising by 18 per cent.

Shop vacancies remained steady in town centres, and reduced in other types of shopping centres, according to the survey by the Local Data Company.

But Shrewsbury appears to bucking that trend, with new shops opening in out-of-town retail parks, such as Chapel House Furniture - a new independent oak furniture specialist which opened in Battlefield Enterprise Park at the end of September.

Store manager, Mike Cummings, said: “Some people were surprised that we were opening in the current climate, but we felt there was room in the market for good quality wooden furniture at reasonable prices. We have had a really strong opening month and more customers are coming through the doors every day as word spreads.

“I don’t necessarily agree that out-of-town retail parks are struggling any more than anywhere else at the moment. Everyone is feeling the pinch, but in Shrewsbury I think people like being able to park easily and avoid the hassle of going into the town centre - particularly if they looking for large purchases, such as furniture.”

Retail analysts have put the decline of out-of-town shops down to the continuing boom in internet shopping, but Mr Cummings said people still appreciated the experience of actually visiting a shop.

He said: “There are plenty of websites out there selling furniture, but there is no substitute for physically looking at an oak dining table or sitting on a chair - you simply can’t do that on a computer.

“People also want good, friendly customer service, which is something we pride ourselves on.”

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Pete White Pete White

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