Statistics released by the British Retail Consortium and Springboard show improved footfall for retailers during January 2016, with a 1.2% increase on 2015 figures.

After a dreary December, which reflected a 2.2% fall in numbers on the previous year, this has brought hope to landlords and retailers who had been feeling the effect.

"The increase in footfall across all retail destination types, the first since December 2011, alongside the rise in spending in January, finally demonstrates what is well known - that bricks and mortar shopping environments are still important to consumers", said Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard.

And Caxtons' Commercial Agency office in Canterbury can confirm that new and independent retailers are once again opening up on 'the high street'.

With competition such as St James, a new retail development in Dover, attracting major high street brands such as Marks & Spencer, Next, Travelodge, Bella Italia, Nandos and Cineworld, it could leave traditional busy shopping and leisure areas neglected.

However, the good news is that this means vacant shop premises are available for independent traders to occupy, something they could not have envisaged when in

competition with national retailers, all vying to inhabit the same space.

As a consequence, in the past two months Caxtons has agreed the letting of two Dover shops on new leases with a further two premises under offer.

Beverley Smallman from commercial agency said, "This is very positive news for a sector that has valiantly been fighting the effects of internet shopping, depleted numbers of customers and market share. It has seemed a desperate battle for the smaller independent traders, but now they are coming back to high street locations all over Kent and adding variety and interest to the shopping experience.

"At Caxtons we are getting many more enquiries from retailers wanting and needing a physical outlet, rather than the anonymity of a web based store. Of course, this does not preclude them from having and maintaining both platforms, and many of our tenants do. But it is really nice to see positive activity back on the high street once again."

For further information about commercial property stock contact Caxtons' commercial agency offices in Canterbury on 01227 788088, Maidstone on 01622 234886 and Crossways on 01474 567666.

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