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A survey of retail chairmen, conducted by headhunting organisation Korn Ferry, has revealed that 73% are optimistic about the UK’s economic outlook. The survey of bosses of 39 high street retailers included Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer.

76% also said that the Government is doing ‘reasonably well’. Debenhams’ chairman Nigel Northridge agreed: ‘They’ve done exceptionally well in difficult circumstances. They’ve stuck to their knitting and it seems to be working’.

This reaction is notably different from the same survey last year, in which only 15% of those questioned were optimistic.

With reported economic recovery, 90% of those surveyed predict their companies will grow in 2014.

These figures coincide with another survey conducted by the Local Data Company, which monitors over 2,000 retail centres. It reports that shop vacancy rates are the lowest they have been in four years.

Figures show that average vacancy rates are below 14%, leaving 50,000 empty shops in town centres but improving from an average of 14.6% in 2012.