With nearly 15% of shops vacant, two new online shopping companies are trying to revamp the way we think about buying 'local.'

This article titled “Could virtual high streets save local shops?” was written by Joanne O'Connell, for The Observer on Saturday 15th September 2012 21.59 UTC

Most people want a thriving high street with butchers, bakers, greengrocers, bookshops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants. So figures from the Local Data Company, showing that nearly 15% of shops are vacant, make for depressing reading. They seem to reinforce the gloom of Deloitte's prediction earlier this year that four in 10 shops will be forced to close in the next five years.

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