A smart delicatessen that caters only for window shoppers has sprung up in a Tyneside town after the council decided to put up fake shop fronts to cover empty units.
The imaginary business is the first of a string of facades intended to be unveiled in Whitley Bay high street, where the impact of the recession has left nearly one in five shops vacant.
North Tyneside Council is trialling the window dressing in an attempt to attract new business to the struggling town centre.
"The economic climate has forced many businesses to bring down the shutters," said the Council's deputy mayor Judith Wallace.
"We need to ensure that the remaining businesses continue to survive and that means ensuring our high streets look attractive to both shoppers and potential business investors."
The colourful fake shop fronts are either taped inside the windows or screwed to the fascia so they can be removed and re-used as required.
Karen Goldfinch, the owner of a local gift shop and chair of Whitley Bay Chamber of Trade, told Sky News
Online the shop front had already attracted an "excellent reaction" from customers.
"Something needed to be done as the empty shop was bang in the middle of the town centre. This has lightened everything up and inspired existing businesses," she said.
"I was at a wedding fair on Saturday and people who had seen it told me it created a much happier outlook.
"Other empty units have been decorated by local artists and we had one painted in the team colours of Whitley Bay after they won the FA Vase last year."
Ms Goldfinch said the Chamber of Trade, the council and a local property consultant had worked together on the window design, which she said was a first of its kind.
"It's an excellent way of promoting how a unit can be used, making you think about it in a different way to what you've been used to seeing," she added.
The North East has been particularly badly hit by the impact of the recession on the retail industry, with Newcastle, Gateshead and Hull all facing a rate of empty premises that is above the national average. Yahoo
Might be a good idea for Birkenhead and Liscard.