CONFIDENCE in Winchester business is at its highest level for over three years according to a recent report.

The Winchester Business Improvement District (BID) business barometer was reviewed by the board two weeks ago and shows business confidence for the 62 BID businesses is at its highest since the survey was first launched in autumn 2011.

Chris Turner, executive director of Winchester BID, said: "The quarterly Winchester Business Barometer shows that the businesses of the city have weathered the recent financial downturn with some success and are now more optimistic for the future than they have been for the past two years."

It also indicated that the overall business confidence has increased by 10 per cent since last year and median takings rose by 3.7 per cent – the highest figure for 12 months.

At the time the survey was conducted there were seven vacant retail sites along the entire length of the High Street which translated into a vacancy rate of 5.4 per cent, the lowest level for 12 months.

The empty premises listed were the retail unit next to Corals at the bottom of the High Street, the former Wine Shack next to Subway, Terracotta on Broadway, Blockbuster, Union Jacks, Harringtons estate agents and the former Moss Bros site at the top of the High Street.

Businesses reporting a positive consumer response included clothes, fashion, shoes, stationery, jewellery, crafts, hairdressing, travel, wine and estate agents with demand for slowly increasing for such items.

However, while the overall outlook had proved positive with trading conditions remaining very competitive, business owners had also reported that, while optimistic for the year ahead, the majority had agreed that the High Street had not yet completely recovered from the recession.