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Queues as Southend H&M opens its doors
SOUTHEND celebrated the opening of a huge new store as the UK dragged itself out of economic mire.
As keen shoppers queued to get into the new H&M in the High Street, figured released by the Office of National Statistics showed the country climbed out of the double-dip recession between July and September.
City experts predicted the Gross Domestic Product would rise by 0.6 per cent but it beat the targets to grow by one per cent in the third quarter of this year.
This is the biggest increase since the third quarter of 2007.
It comes as ballot papers are distributed for traders to vote on whether to become part of a Business Improvement District. Balloting officially starts today (26) and will end on November 22.
The Echo-backed BID would see firms pay a set percentage into a central pot which would be used to improve the area.
Dawn Jeakings, manager of the Royals shopping centre and chairman of the Southend Town Centre Partnership, said Southend has coped well during the recession.
She said: “Our vacancy rates are a lot less than other towns. I think the regeneration that happened before has kept us afloat.
“I went into H&M and the town is a lot busier. It is a very positive recognition that they have got confidence in Southend otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it here. It is endorsing their confidence in the town. The BID will attract more businesses, we need more varied businesses and the BID will help with that.”
The ONS has warned the bounce-back was largely driven by one-off factors such as clawed-back activity lost to the extra bank holiday for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and a slight lift from the Olympics.
However Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the news by saying Britain was “on the right track”.