A business group has insisted that businesses in Winchester are thriving in spite of low satisfaction levels.

Winchester BID told the Chronicle there was no need for concern, although a report they published says businesses' satisfaction levels have almost halved since last year.

The report, which gathered data from the first economic quarter, stated: “Businesses have faced a ‘really hard’ time since Christmas as reflected in the lower business confidence or sentiment scores referred to below.”

The BID's Business Barometer Report revealed that fewer than one in five businesses feel that sales are ‘good’, ‘consistent’ or ‘picking up’.

Fewer than one in seven taking part in the survey said that customer numbers were ‘up’, ‘good’ or ‘heavy’.

READ MORE: Winchester Halfords shop set to close doors for good

(Image: Google Maps)

There have also been a number of recent closures in the city, including Halfords, Mooch, Ecco and Bell Fine Art.

Some residents fear that the High Street will fill up with coffee shops as a result.

Dr Paul Spencer, executive director of Winchester BID, said: “I think there’s been a few closures recently but our vacancy rate is very, very low and some of the closures are because of retirements in the case of the smaller, independent shops.”

He said the state of business in the city-centre was “very healthy”.

When asked if Phase Eight might have closed because business was not great, he said: “As far as we know it was a high performing store.”

(Image: Sebastian Haw)

Concerns have also been raised about the apparently high turnover rate of businesses in Winchester.

“I would not call it a high turnover rate,” said Dr Spencer. “But we have got lots of businesses that have been here for many, many years. It isn’t the cheapest place to run a business, but that’s because it’s a good place to operate a business.”

The Chronicle also talked to Lucille Thompson, Winchester County Council's cabinet member for business and culture. She said: “I think business in Winchester is thriving and our High Street is really thriving. We have an incredibly low vacancy rate at four per cent.

"The national average is 13 per cent and around the rest of the city it is seven per cent.”

“We have very little control about who goes into vacant shops due to changes in legislation by the conservative government which mean that any shop can be turned into a coffee shop if the owner should choose to do so.”