Shop vacancies continue to fall

Shop vacancy rates have dropped for the fourth consecutive month, The Local Data Company (LDC) has reported.

All shop vacancy rates fell by 0.3 per cent year on year in November and compared with 2013 vacancy rates were down 0.8 per cent.

Retail vacancy saw the biggest fall with 0.6 per cent year on year, dropping from 13.3 per cent to 12.7 per cent last month. This is a smaller decline compared with the previous period (2013-2014), which saw an 0.8 per cent drop from a 14.1 per cent shop vacancy rate in 2013.

LDC expected this decline to continue with a stabilising economy and vacancy rates closing in on pre-recession levels.

“The number of empty shops on Britain’s high streets continues to fall,” commented LDC director Matthew Hopkinson. “The big question is – is it because more businesses opened in November than in previous months or are the vacant shops being turned into alternative uses, redeveloped or indeed demolished? The answer lies in all of these factors.

“Bracknell, Exeter and Wrexham have all seen the number of empty shops reduce. The pre-Christmas trading window saw an above-average rise in previously empty shops being reoccupied across the centres visited. November also saw the highest number of shops being demolished or redeveloped in 2015.

“Many retailers are under significant pressure as a result of online campaigns such as the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as a savvier consumer who will wait until real discounting comes into play. Premium retailers continue to do well, but the appetite for consumers to maintain or increase debt levels due to low inflation and interest rates could be very good news for the shops, but not for the long-term wider economy.’’