SHOPPERS have condemned the number of empty shops in a city centre as “disgusting”.

It comes as new figures revealed there are 665 empty business units in Brighton and Hove, with the city council set to lose almost £3 million in business rates as a result.

Sherry Bentley comes from Seaford to shop in the city but said the alarming number of closed shops was “sad to see”.

The 78-year-old said: “Coming down London Road, what a disgusting advert for the city. It doesn’t attract people, all the empty shops put you off. I think the problem is they are trying to get rid of cash, everything is on cards.

Shops have cut their own throats by doing all this online business, they can’t have their cake and eat it.

“There has definitely got to be more done to drive people to the shops.”

Lynn Jordan, also from Seaford, agreed.

She said: “I think there is a generational thing with younger people shopping online. Shops I have gone to for years have closed down, it’s devastating.

“I loved British Home Stores but there is a big gap in the market there now, I can’t think of a shop that fills the space it left.”

Shopper Frank Hazel said there were several reasons for the number of empty stores, saying he had heard horror stories of high rents paid by shops and cafes in The Lanes area.

He said: “It’s all across the city, mainly in the centre.

“We see closing down sales everywhere and it’s definitely more than one thing that is causing it.

“But I don’t think it has anything to do with Brexit.

“Brighton is a tourist destination and attracts people from all over the world.

“But a big problem is, when you come on holiday, the last thing you want to see is people begging, it puts off visitors.

“Sitting in cafes I am constantly being asked for cigarettes and money.

“If you have people sleeping in doorways then visitors are not going to want to come back.”

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: “Brighton and Hove remains in a healthy position as a place for business compared with many other areas of the country.

“The council is constantly working with organisations to support existing businesses and attract new ones to the city.

“Business rates are set by the Government and administered by local authorities.

“We have far fewer empty retail properties and eateries than the national average.

“Out of the 4,014 properties on our register, currently only 196 are empty.”