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Empty shops litter Hampstead high street

PUBLISHED: 13:39 07 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:10 07 September 2010

A shop in Hampstead

A shop in Hampstead

Rowan Larsen EMPTY shops are continuing to haunt Hampstead s streets due to soaring rents and slow trade during the recession. Local traders – and even the bigger nationwide chains – need help more than ever if Hampstead is to retain its vibrant shopping

Rowan Larsen

EMPTY shops are continuing to haunt Hampstead's streets due to soaring rents and slow trade during the recession.

Local traders - and even the bigger nationwide chains - need help more than ever if Hampstead is to retain its vibrant shopping atmosphere.

Karen Millen, Nine West, and Formes in Hampstead High Street have all closed in recent weeks, making the popular street unattractive and putting off yet more shoppers.

Despite slow trade, businesses are hoping loyal customers will prevent more shops closing down by shopping locally.

Yuhei Kando, who owns a salon opposite vacant beauty salon Vanilla Moon in Heath Street, believes a cafe should move into the premises to encourage trade near his shop.

"There are no cafes here, so it would be good if people had a reason to visit Heath Street rather than just passing by on their way to the High Street," he said.

Meanwhile empty maternity shop Formes closed down due to "high rents and bad business", according to a friend of the manager. Loze Benjamin, manager of the Nicolas wines shop, said: "It looks terrible to have shops closed in the high street.

"Even chains like Karen Millen can't survive because they are not profitable and the rents are too high.

"Formes next door closed because business was bad for them. The landlord wanted to put the rent up and they could not afford it."

Despite the empty shops and recession it is not all bad news, according to Mr Benjamin.

"Business for us is good," he said. "It is cheaper for people to eat at home with wine than go out for a meal."

Marco Guabello, supervisor of independent boutique CoChineChine in Heath Street, says they attract shoppers who are looking for something a bit different.

He said: "The empty shops are not affecting us too much, but it would be good to have the passing trade.

"Business is slow but we do feel confident about the recession."

Mr Guabello has an attitude which many businesses in Hampstead have adopted - unsure, but hopeful.

"We are interested in seeing how spending trends will change after the recession," he said.

"We will see if people spend more cautiously, buying two quality pieces of clothing rather than 10 bits of tat in central London."

Piero Ferraro, who owns Linea of Hampstead, thinks empty shops are bad for morale.

He said: "Everyone is miserable and stays in.

"We need to change our attitude and smile more for things to get better.

"I have been here for 20 years, but even my loyal customers that have the money are being careful. Business is very slow, but I stay positive.


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