MORE than 20 stores have resisted an increase in VAT in a major boost for Hartlepool shoppers.
An increase in VAT from 15 per cent to 17.5 per cent came into force across the country from January 1 this year.
But 24 outlets at the Middleton Grange shopping centre in Hartlepool have shunned the chance to move to the higher grade.
Centre manager Mark Rycraft said: "I am delighted that over 20 of our stores are offering the VAT reduction, the extra discount is just what we all need at this time of year.
"I hope that shoppers take advantage of prices while they're low and enjoy picking up some bargains."
Stores participating include Bonmarche, Clinton Cards, Dorothy Perkins, Burtons, and Yorkshire Linen.
They also include Renaissance Flowers, Mariners, Home Bargains, King John's Tavern, Kosa, Evans, and Phones-4-U.
Others which have also kept the lower rate of VAT are Grainger Games, Gregg's, Officers Club, Walmsleys, Mary Lamberts, X Catalogue, Rayners, Claire's Accessories and Playmates.
The reduced rate has also been taken up by some of the business in the indoor market hall. They are In2stitches, Young One and Bright and Beautiful.
The Government reduced the VAT rate to 15 per cent last year in a bid to get the economy back on its feet.
But the reduction was merely a temporary measure and the rate of VAT was increased back to its original level of 17.5 per cent at the start of this year.