North Tyneside Council is trialling the new window treatment which gives passer byers at first glance the impression that the units are occupied.
The crumbling facade of a vacant clothing store in the centre of Whitley Bay has made way for a smart shop front with the question ‘Delicatessen?’ and close by ‘This retail space could be yours …’
The same approach is being considered for empty premises in North Shields and Wallsend.
Judith Wallace, North Tyneside Council’s deputy mayor, said: ‘We need to do whatever we can to support our businesses and our town centres. The recession has forced many businesses to bring down their shutters.
‘We need to ensure that the remaining businesses continue to survive and that means ensuring our High Streets look as attractive as possible to both shoppers and potential business investors.
‘This is a simple and cost-effective approach that keeps the retail unit available for potential new uses and in the meantime also contributes to the street scene.’
The colourful graphic designs – which feature a range of different shop types – are either taped inside the windows or screwed to the fascia so they can be removed and re-used as required.
Karen Goldfinch, chairman of Whitley Bay Chamber of Trade, said: ‘This makes a great difference to our High Street – it looks tidy and professional.
‘It’s an excellent way of promoting how a unit can be used, making you think about it in a different way to what you’ve been used to seeing, perhaps inspiring new businesses to come into the town.
‘I believe this is the first treatment of this kind to empty shops – not just in this area, but the whole country – and it’s good to think that we are leading the way forward in this. It is another positive thing for Whitley Bay. We all have the interests of our town at heart, and can contribute in different ways.’