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London, Glasgow and Manchester best for town centre shopping

London, Glasgow, and Manchester have emerged as the towns which offer the best town centre shopping experience.

The findings formed part of resarch by retail consultancy Verdict, which analysed more than 700 town centres using criteria such as affluence, vacancy rates and strength of retail offering.

Birmingham was found to be the fourth best town centre for shopping, followed by Leeds, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Norwich and Cardiff.

Verdict senior retail analyst Matt Piner said one of the key reasons for the success of a town centre was the diversity of its shops, explaining why cities such as Edinburgh and Norwich are in the top 10 at the expense of bigger places such as Liverpool, which came 13th.

Low vacancy rates also help keep retail space “highly concentrated” according to Piner, which encourages footfall and brings in big brands and multiples.

The report said while general retail had “suffered in recent years, sales in town centres have been worst hit”, with sales across the centres edging up just 0.2% in 2010 - the weakest uplift since 1999. 

Verdict predicts that town centres would “continue to lose market share” while other channels such as etail, out of town and convenience would grow.  In 2010 town centre retail was the only channel to lose market share, dropping from 43.3% in 2009 to 42.7%. In 2011 it will fall further to 42.2%.

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