EMPTY shops in Accrington are at an all-time high with a figure of 22 per cent of town centre shops closed.

Recent closures in the town have affected the town’s Arndale Centre units including Clinton’s Cards, Thornton’s, an independent stationers, J and T Cosmetics and Bon Marche.

The closures are in addition to a high number of empty shops which began to appear on Blackburn Road, Broadway, and surrounding areas at the start of the recession.

The figure of 22 per cent was compiled by Hyndburn Council as they explored ways to improve the town centre.

The council say the high figure of empty shops is a reflection of the recession and urged local people to support their town centre.

Deputy council leader Clare Pritchard said Accrington was still vibrant and should weather the low points in the economy.

She said: “We’ve been getting a lot of interest in the market hall for example, and given out some new leases, so it is not all doom and gloom.

"Obviously when national chains are being affected nation-wide, town like Accrington will also feel the effects.

“I think the town is still quite vibrant and we are lucky to have the variety of independent traders that we have in the town. It is a recession though, and you have to expect some problems. We will keep parking free in the town and urge everyone to support the town centre and not shop elsewhere.”

Arndale trader Philip Brown manages Fulton Foods, which took over Farmfoods which closed last year.

He said: “It does sound depressing when you quote that figure, but it’s business as usual for most of us. I think mostly it’s a knock-on effect from national problems.

"Trade is good for us at the moment.”