Shops are shutting all over Cambridge. Since we moved to the UK’s historic university town about nine months ago, three stores have closed on our 100m street alone, including clothing labels Mint Velvet and French Connection, as well as bath and body brand Crabtree & Evelyn. While at least one of the vacant premises promises a new tenant, the other two have been standing empty for some time.

Cambridgeshire Live, a local website covering the county’s news, has noted the increase in empty storefronts. In April, it reported that more than 30 retail properties were listed for rent across the city, most of them in prime shopping locations. The situation is apparently so dire that one of Cambridge’s two shopping malls, the Grafton Centre, is advertising free units to small business owners and independent restaurateurs. This in a city that welcomes about 5.3-million tourists annually and had one of the UK’s fastest-growing economies in 2018.

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