THE Maltings shopping centre is about to become 100 per cent occupied as two new shops open.

The Salisbury Sausage Shop will open in the former Culpepper store and the empty Riverside Gifts is being transformed into a Chinese gift shop.

Centre manager Bill McConnell said: “I’m delighted because it means that every unit is now let.

“As you walk along the row there are lots of independent shops all offering something different.

“Footfall is good too, it’s holding steady and as people leave the car park they are walking that way, along the river, into town.

“Businesses are attracted by the smaller units and the fact it’s all independent retailers.”

The Chinese gift shop is set to open in the next few days and will sell presents, clothes, soft toys and other cultural trinkets.

The Salisbury Sausage Shop is due to open in the second week of March with Graham Wann selling scores of varieties of handmade bangers, burgers and barbecue food made in Bishopstone.

But while The Maltings shopping centre enjoys a more positive picture, other shopping areas in Salisbury are continuing to find trading tough.

As the Journal reported recently, there are several empty units in the Old George Mall, Winchester Street and The High Street with many national retailers such as Hawkin’s Bazaar, River Island and JD Sports shutting their Salisbury stores.

However, a report published by the Local Data Company this week revealed that Salisbury is one of the cities nationwise with the fewest empty shops with 8.7 per cent of premises currently empty.

Best performing is Cambridge where 6.4 per cent of shops stand empty, followed by St Albans which has 8.2 per cent of its shops vacant.

The figures for towns of a similar size to Salisbury are 8.7 percent in Taunton, 9.3 per cent in Exeter and 9.4 per cent in Harrogate.

Stockport has the highest percentage of empty shops with 30.1 per cent currently vacant.