Sunderland branded Britain’s bargain basement with highest level of discount stores in the country

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SUNDERLAND is Britain’s bargain basement, according to new research.

The city has been confirmed as the value store capital of the UK, according to figures released today by Callcredit Information Group, which show Wearside has the highest percentage of discount stores in the country.

(left) Ellis Douglas, Newcastle, Sales Assistant. (right) Daniel Kovacs, Newcastle, Basketball Coach

(left) Ellis Douglas, Newcastle, Sales Assistant. (right) Daniel Kovacs, Newcastle, Basketball Coach

More than a fifth of all Sunderland’s stores fall into the “value” category, defined as covering pound shops, discount food and sportswear stores, charity shops and some fast-food chains.

Newport came second, with Bradford third, and Blackpool fourth.

SAFC commercial director Gary Hutchinson, chairman of the North East Chamber of Commerce’s Sunderland committee, says the challenge for Sunderland is to attract big names while recognising the important role value stores had to play.

He said: “Clearly this is disappointing news, however it is not a total surprise.”

“Where there is a place for these types of stores, it is important that any retail core has the correct balance of shopping options available to its consumer base.

“There is work to be done on the city centre, especially in specific areas to make it an appealing destination to our population, and also from people outside the city.

“It is up to our city council, developers, land owners and the business community to work together to develop the central business district and restore areas back to the required standard.

“We have recently announced our Business Improvement District which is a very positive step to tackle the decline in our city centre by working in partnership.

“It is important, however, that the population of the city support the range of retail and leisure offers we have available.”

Today’s figures have been revealed in Callcredit’s 2013 RetailVision Report, which uses data from more than 17,000 retail centres across the UK – including town centres, shopping centres and retail parks to provide a detailed picture of the UK’s retail landscape.

This year the report reveals that the country’s largest retail destinations are holding their own and maintaining retail revenues in the face of increasing competition from on-line retailers and prolonged tough trading conditions.

But the continuing domination of the big centres is putting increased pressure on the surrounding smaller towns and local shopping centres across the UK, where revenues have started to see some decline.

Callcredit’s Chris Duley said smaller centres had to find new ways to compete and do things the bigger shopping centres could not in order to attract more business.

“Our latest retail reports highlights the opportunities and challenges faced by retail centres up and down the UK,” he said.

“Successful national and international retailers are continuing to extend their store footprint but the wider retail environment needs to be right to attract shoppers.

“The big centres can offer this; the question is can the smaller centres offer this too?”