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 233.

    Due to high earners and proximity to Europe the SE has always had an advantage, but a smart govt. would realise you need to take action to spread wealth across the country or the country gets poorer.

    Random16 you keep going on about "high quality leisure businesses" but who do you think has the money to use them? I'm well qualified and getting less and less....Also try to give you what they want!

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Woolworths (Wilkinsons sell the same goods for less)
    HMV (cheaper online)
    Jessops (lost out to digital)
    Blockbuster (lost out to online)
    Comet (terrible customer service)
    JJB (still going, but Sportdirect are much cheaper)
    Clinton cards (cheaper online)
    Game (cheaper online)
    Peacocks (still going)
    Currys (still going)

    Those that failed failed to adapt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    All the time we have high rates and rents, criminally high parking charges and shop prices to match we will continue to see the decline of our high streets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    We were renting a shop space in a small precinct amongst about half a dozen others. One folded so the landlord put all the other rents up and finished off everyone else at thesame time, including us.

    Unfortunately many properties are managed by pension funds who don't have a clue about commercial business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    I recently bought an iPad in our local city centre precinct. So that I could do internet shopping on the move. Go figure eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    Thats true @hagishead Ive never read a comment that describes this better , and still no trained people to carry out forefilling jobs TRUE
    Anyway Im off no point and sitting arguing Far better things to do in life Let them get on with it Let then stuff this up completley Perhaps they could even stand in front of the mirror and kid themselves they're brilliant I dont think they are !

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    While outside of town centres, the only growth area is off licenses and totally unregulated fast food takeaways ......... Oh what spin we get !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    The High Street has an opportunity to adapt and change. Indeed it must offer an experience to draw in customers. One that competes with internet shopping and out of town retailers.

    Critical to this reform is the attitude of councils towards parking. If the high street is to thrive shoppers must be able to access it with their vehicles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    Even the Gold buyers are pulling out, around here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    The figures presented indicate almost no change, so why the headline? 13.9% is very little better than 14.6%. Perhaps you could use a log scale instead of a lin one to make it look good? There has always been a SE to everywhere else divide because 1) The SE is next to Europe 2) London contains state bodies with higgh earnes artificially taking money from rest and putting it into the SE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    I wonder how many of the 2,000 shops that are monitored for this survey are in Brighton & Hove, where there are a lot of sad, empty shops. I've also noticed here though a high number of shops that close very quickly after they open, because they've made very simple business errors such as picking the wrong location etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    If people are not going into town centres, what is the point of opening shops? Are we promoting the idea of failing small businesses. Shops need customers. The customers have moved on...

  • Comment number 221.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    Thats Britain in a nutshell for you the masters of thier own destruction Im sure they should have lived Russia Thats why I cant be bothered with this country anymore wasting my bloody time with some of them (really silly people) All thier own doing this Typical attitude , "If I dont win your not going to win " , "Cant stand loisng so they try to take everyone with them "

  • 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!

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    Research drivel to make us all think the recession has ended when even Miliband says "more cuts needed" in the other HYS topic.

    Must an election coming up. Prepare to have the wool pulled over your eyes.

    The empty shops in my highstreet are now charity shops, as it is in most towns.

    Extortionate rates prevent many new businesses starting up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    These big multinationals and their tradition props the small independent businesses have pretty much brought this upon us all by lapping up the propaganda put about by the government and being willing to victimise the poor, unemployed, ill and disabled. Why on earth would I want to help them? I much prefer online or second hand. Look at the figures!!!! 14.6% to 13.9% is next to nothing!!!

  • Comment number 215.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    Convert them into dwellings. There are far too many shops as it is.


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