Barnstaple’s town centre is holding its own in the face of some difficult times for High Streets across the country, according to business leaders.

Barnstaple High Street, May 2018. Picture: Andy KeebleBarnstaple High Street, May 2018. Picture: Andy Keeble

Despite the closure of stores such as Maplin and This Is It, and restaurants such as Prezzo, footfall in the town is holding up well against national averages after the first quarter of the year.

There were also more visitors to the High Street in April than the same period 12 months ago.

Local businesses are opening too – travel agents Destination Lounge opened a third North Devon branch in Gammon Walk last month.

There are also plenty of choices for food, with Queen Anne’s, Them Apples and Grilled Cheese Kitchen all opening for business in the last month.

Barnstaple Town Centre manager Hannah Harrington said: “It’s a really tough time for retail right now across the board.

“The rise of online shopping, its convenience, and people’s spending habits are the same everywhere and we are seeing the effects of that.

“High Streets are changing, and there is a shift from traditional retail to experiences – things people come into town to specifically do.

“Yes, we have lost some national retailers, but we have also got local businesses coming in.”

Things are also looking promising in Green Lanes Shopping Centre, with footfall in the complex higher than the previous two years.

Loungers will be opening its new bar and restaurant, Tarko Lounge, at the revamped shopping centre entrance this summer.

While the unit left by BHS has been largely unoccupied since the store closed in July 2016, Green Lanes manager Craig Bulley said there could soon be some news.

“We’re having some interesting and ongoing conversations at the moment,” he said.

“Hopefully it won’t be too long before some positive news.

“It is a challenging market, and things have to be right for all parties.”

Prezzo closed its doors last month after a Company Voluntary Arrangement, and Maplin went into administration.

This Is It was forced to close in Barnstaple due to increased rent and a rise in convenience stores.

Next will also be leaving Barnstaple High Street this summer, closing after its new store at Anchorwood Bank opens in August.