Shop vacancy rate lowest for four years, research suggests

A man carrying bags of shopping The rate of town centre shop vacancies is at its lowest for four years

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There has been a marked improvement in the number of empty shops on the UK's High Streets, research suggests.

The Local Data Company, which monitors more than 2,000 town and shopping centres and retail parks, said average vacancy rates were below 14% for the first time in four years.

But its report also reveals a growing North-South divide, with some High Streets falling into further decline.

However, there are still more than 50,000 empty shops in town centres.

At its peak in 2012, vacancy rates were 14.6%, compared with 13.9% in December.

Some of the vacancies were filled by food and leisure businesses.


The report, though, also shows big regional variations.

Vacancy rates in the North West, North East and East of England have all increased in the past 12 months.

The North West is the worst hit with more than 17% of shops empty - more than double the percentage in London.

The data also shows the increasing impact of large shopping centres and retail parks and their dominance of the retail landscape.

Analysis of the 12 biggest shopping centres found most of the surrounding weaker towns and High Streets continue to decline, raising questions over their future direction and viability.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    Why the nostalgia about high streets ? They have gone the way of horse-drawn cabs and open sewers along urban streets; who would want them to return ?
    Convert buildings on one side of each street to residential use and bulldoze the other side for residents and their visitors parking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    Its not just the High St that has vacancies, many of the out of town retail centres now have vacant units.

    No longer that nation of shopkeepers. I would imagine newsagents will struggle as printed press less popular so impulse buying of additional sweets etc will also be hurting profits.

    Need to consider turning some shops back to living accommodation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    I run a small, struggling business and would love to have a shop front but the rent and rates charged would be more than my entire turnover never mind profit! Would it not be preferable for council owned empty shops to be rented out for maybe £50 a week inclusive to the likes of me rather than sitting empty and boarded up?

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    Just another example of the North-South divide and growing wealth inequality and reducing job opportunities. Britain is no longer a country; its more a set of independent regions. The South gets all the investment and business growth and the North continues to suffer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    Woolworths Gone, HMV Gone, Jessops Gone, Blockbuster Gone, Comet Gone, JJB Gone, Clinton cards Gone, Game Gone, Peacocks Gone, Past times Gone, Currys Gone... but hey Poundland, Pound Zone, Home Bargains, Giftworld, B&M, Cheque Centre, Payday loans all coming in to fill the gaps... If this is the so called recovery imagine what another collapse would look like!


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