POOLE’S traders have vowed to keep fighting for the town’s shopping district after a report claimed it has the high street with the ‘highest rate of decline in the UK’.

Company Asktraders looked at bank and retail store closures and compared these figures against percentage growth of the retail sector in UK high streets.

According to its data, Poole’s High Street is the nation’s ‘most declining’. This year, according to the report, the High Street had -4 per cent retail growth.

John Grinnell, chair of Poole’s Business Improvement District, said much is being done to improve the town centre.

“We all know about the issues affecting high streets nationwide – Poole High Street is no different,” he said.

“What is different is here that Poole BID has been working incredibly hard to help revitalise our High Street for local businesses and residents.

“We have brought thousands of extra people here through our events throughout the year, and in working in partnership to tackle anti-social behaviour, among other initiatives.

“But we are not complacent – there is still more to do, and we are passionate about continuing to improve the High Street for many years to come.”

Poole shopper Maria Spencer told the Echo: “There has been a lot of talk about decline in Poole Hight Street in recent years, but this has gone hand-in-hand with a change in the way people do their shopping and a decline across the whole country. Poole might not be as vibrant as it once was, but lots of place are not.”

Town resident Peter North said: “Poole town centre suffers from lack of investment, of new shops coming in, because of all the antisocial behaviour around the bus station.

“People don’t want to come here, especially older people. Sort out the antisocial behaviour and I think the high street will improve.”

Another shopper said: “The middle of the high street looks tired, especially compared to closer to Poole Quay.”

Steve Miley, senior market analysis at AskTraders, said: “The UK high street has been weathering tough trading conditions with many retailers dropping by the wayside.

“Traditional retail store closures are on the up as businesses grapple with a weak consumer in the face of Brexit uncertainty, the unabated rise of e-commerce, higher costs and changing tastes. There are, inevitably, going to be winners and losers.”

A spokesperson from BCP Council said: “Revitalising high streets across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole is a key priority and we will continue to work with our partners to seek innovative and sustainable ways of bringing investment into the three towns

"Like many others nationally, Poole High Street is not unique in the tough trading conditions it experiences, however the quoted figures are perhaps currently mis-leading due to the regeneration that is planned for the town. An indication of the health of the High Street as a whole, footfall at the Dolphin Shopping Centre year on year is up 0.5%.

"In terms of the metrics being based on ATM’s usage on the High Street, national trends are seeing more and more people moving away from traditional cash and onto electronic card payments so while this was a surprise to see it is not unexpected. However we are in a fortunate position of having a large number of banks still operating on the High Street and a number of retailers have come, or are coming onto the High Street soon.

"In addition, earlier this year we were awarded £150,000 from the government’s Future High Street’s Fund to develop a business case for Poole High Street. The business case will be submitted next year and if successful could see a significant investment in the High Street which would be fantastic for residents and businesses in Poole.

“BCP Council has also been successful in securing Poole High Street as a Heritage Action Zone, which will secure further investment over the next few years to help revitalising the quality of buildings, the public realm and the shopping experience.’’