A HIGH street expert has offered his insight into the state of Hexham's shopping offering.

Retail consultant Graham Soult visited the town and shared his optimism about the state of high street.

Graham has been visiting the town on and off for the past 10-12 years but this was his first time visiting since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I think it's fair to say that Hexham isn't looking it's best at the moment," he said.

"It's natural to get these cycles but obviously at the moment Hexham has been hit quite hard by problems of retailers nationally.

"Argos have pulled out of locations all over the country, that isn't a Hexham issue but it does leave a prominent void."

Graham is very optimistic about the future of high streets across the country like Hexham.

He said: "For every shop there is an opportunity and Seasalt proves that there are some big names that are looking for space in Hexham and that is really promising."

The pandemic saw a huge rise in people setting up their own businesses and are now expanding onto the high street including S&S Attire, which recently opened its doors.

Graham believes that independent shops have a huge role to play in the bounce back of the high street.

"Hexham has a lot of fantastic independent shops, it has a lot of strengths," he said.

"I always like to think of the high street as a evolving one. In a place like Hexham a few of the big names have gone already and Hexham is becoming more independent anyway and in a sense that is a good thing.

"People got fed up of that whole clone town effect and people came to Hexham as they got an experience they didn't get anywhere else."

Over the summer footfall was up by 38 per cent in Northumberland as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.

Graham said: "People have rediscovered the joy and convenience of shopping locally.

"In terms of the footfall trends it's some of the local smaller centres that bounce back quicker than the cities."