Maldon's traders have claimed an online presence is vital after empty shops hit the highest rate in 15 months.

A British Retail Consortium report has found that the number of empty shops on the UK’s high streets has hit the highest level since its survey began in July 2011.

The town centre vacancy rate is now over 11 per cent.

Although many are pointing towards the internet as a key driver behind the demise of the high street, Maldon traders said both must coexist to be successful.

Mary Powell, chairman of the Maldon Business Association, who runs Maldon Emporium in the town's High Street and Emporium Direct online, said: “In my opinion the future is most businesses are going to have use the internet as well as have a high street shop."

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