Report predicts rise in vacant shop numbers

07 Feb 2012

The number of vacant properties on Britain's High Streets is likely to rise this year, according to a new report from the Local Data Company (LDC).

Amid weakening consumer confidence, and with shoppers increasingly tempted by online and out-of-town retailers, the LDC predicts that there will be a surge in shop vacancy rates during 2012.

As the internet's share of the shopping market continues to grow, it anticipates that 'there will be, if not already, too many shops on the High Street'.

The report concluded that town centre vacancy rates stabilised last year at an average of 14.3%, or 48,000 shops, although the research reveals significant discrepancies between towns across the country.

Stockport was found to have the highest vacancy rate last year – more than 30% – while St Albans had the lowest at 8.2%.

'The stable top line rate of 2011 hides the significant breadth in town centre vacancy rates up and down the country and the structural issues that are at stake,' said Matthew Hopkinson, director of the LDC.

'Technology is driving consumer behaviour to a world of engagement, entertainment and the ability to shop where, how and when we like,' he added. 'Town centres need to adapt to this changing environment if they are to survive and thrive.'

Meanwhile Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: 'Today's figures show that while some high streets are thriving, others remain locked in a spiral of decline.'

She also called on the Government to implement the measures put forward by the retail guru Mary Portas, who recently published a report on the state of the UK High Street.

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