Pilot to market empty shops

Councillors Alan Skidmore and Mick Stanley with shop owner Simon Botros outside 5 North Steet's new shopjacket. (1302041AM2)
Councillors Alan Skidmore and Mick Stanley with shop owner Simon Botros outside 5 North Steet's new shopjacket. (1302041AM2)

A new initiative to encourage higher shop occupancy in the district is being piloted in Ripon, with ‘Shopjacket’ illusions in empty shop windows.

The scheme is being used to attract tenants to open up new shops in the city after figures revealed Ripon has the highest shop vacancy rate in the district.

The new shop illusion at 5 North Street, which has been left empty for three years, will aim to decrease the city’s 10 per cent shop vacancy rate.

Coun Alan Skidmore has welcomed the pilot for the city, hailing the Shopjacket as an “excellent new product”.

“The Shopjacket aims to assist with the marketing of empty units while making them look as attractive as possible.

“Our economic development team was very keen to trial Shopjackets as a pilot in one of the district’s vacant units,” said Coun Skidmore, who is Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for planning, transport and economic development.

“North Street has a number of excellent local businesses and, of course, the best outcome would be a new tenant for number five. If this pilot proves successful we anticipate undertaking more Shopjackets in the Harrogate district.”

Despite Ripon’s high shop vancany rate, the 10 per cent figure is down from 12 per cent in 2009.

As well as showcasing the shop’s potential, the Shopjacket also advertises the council’s free business advice available from its economic development team. Shopjackets are the brainchild of Paul Murphy, a chartered surveyor with 26 years’ experience in commercial property, who felt there was a need to create a visual focus to encourage new business.