We counted the number of empty shops in Huddersfield town centre

The former Foot Locker store at Huddersfield's King Street
-Credit: (Image: Abigail Marlow)


At least 61 of Huddersfield’s shops are vacant - topping last year’s total of 52 - but Kirklees Council says that spending and footfall are actually on the rise.

On a sunny Thursday morning, this reporter took to the streets of Huddersfield to see just how many retail units were vacant. After exploring the town, we counted 61 retail units that were clearly vacant, or were being advertised as for sale or to let for commercial use.

Making up just over a sixth of the total are the vacancies at New Street, with 11 empty units including the old Wilko, standing empty. This total is set to increase even further as retailer Freddie’s was having a closing down sale.

READ MORE Boy, 9, fighting for life after being hit by Toyota Yaris in Doncaster

Elsewhere, Byram and King Streets saw five vacancies apiece and four empty shops could be spotted at John William Street. Some of the town’s longer-standing vacancies include the former Casino Red and Cleopatra’s building at Northumberland Street and Turtle Bay on King Street.

Our figures from previous years show that this is an increase on the past couple of years, with 53 empty in 2023 and 52 in 2022.

The latest numbers and those for last year could not take the Piazza area into account as the area is sectioned off to make way for the multi-million-pound Cultural Heart project. However, the Shambles area was accessible, with three commercial units empty, one of them being the former WHSmiths.

As far as Huddersfield’s shopping centres are concerned, the Kingsgate Centre has five spaces, one of which being the former House of Fraser which is currently being transformed into Kingsgate Leisure. This scheme made the headlines recently as it was revealed that the original opening date of September 2024 had been pushed back to Easter 2025.

A vacant unit at Market Place
A vacant unit at Market Place -Credit:Abigail Marlow

The Packhorse Centre is fuller compared to last year, with just one vacancy to be seen, though some of the units are being used for events and pop-ups rather than retail. The premises of the once-popular Peter’s has now been occupied by a women’s clothing store, Sophia Boutique.

While the numbers across town were on the decline by our count, the council says Huddersfield town centre has seen more cash spent following the pandemic.

David Shepherd, Strategic Director for growth and regeneration at Kirklees Council, said: “Despite people's shopping habits changing over recent years, not just locally but nationally. We've been encouraged to see figures in Huddersfield town centre performing better for spending in the town centre following the pandemic and can see weekly figures showing large volumes of footfall in areas such as New Street, King Street and Cross Church Street - and we're incredibly proud to see more independent shops making a home in Huddersfield.

“We're facing challenges that aren't unique to Huddersfield - in fact, challenges felt on high streets up and down the country - but our work to regenerate the town centre is already having an impact, and this impact will only increase over the coming year.

The vacant former Wilko
The vacant former Wilko -Credit:Abigail Marlow

“While filling all our empty units with more shops would be fantastic and as a council, we offer competitive rents and incentives in line with the property market to try and fill the ones that we own, realistically what we need is a more varied offering to drive more footfall to our valued retailers and consider ways to make these spaces more attractive in the interim.

‘’We have done this through our support for Temporary Contemporary, facilitating short-term opportunities for artists to take over empty shop fronts and have more visibility within the town centre and by hosting Makerworld, at the Piazza Shopping Centre, offering temporary space to create a vibrant hub for children and families to engage in free creative activities, which has been very popular.

‘’In the long term, a more varied offering to increase footfall and retailers will be provided through projects like Our Cultural Heart, which will celebrate the character and culture of a diverse and exciting town offering, from day to night and give visitors a reason to stay within our town centres for longer. With a vibrant food hall, a brand-new community library, and a new public square, perfectly suited to outdoor cultural events and gatherings.

“Meanwhile, our recent development of New Street, the restoration of the Byram Arcade, and a £16.5m investment of Levelling Up Funding to regenerate Huddersfield Market to support traders and surrounding businesses, show that we still believe retail has a big part to play in our town’s future.

“Our investment in Huddersfield town centre right now, within the Huddersfield Blueprint, will make a world of difference, bringing more people into the town centre and helping businesses thrive, growing our economy further.’’

A snapshot of Huddersfield's New Street
A snapshot of Huddersfield's New Street

A full breakdown of the empty units we spotted is as follows:

Kingsgate Shopping Centre - Five

King Street - Five

The Packhorse Centre - One

Market Place - One

New Street - 11

Ramsden Street - One

The Shambles - Three

Victoria Lane - Three

Beast Market - One

Lord Street - Two

St Peter’s Street - Three

Byram Street - Five

John William Street - Four

Northumberland Street - One

Westgate - Two

Market Street - Three

Station Street - Two

Viaduct Street - Three

Wood Street -Three

Market Avenue - One

Zetland Street - One

Get all the latest and breaking Huddersfield news straight to your inbox by signing up to our daily newsletter here.