UK shop vacancies on the rise

The number of vacant UK retail stores is up 14.5 per cent in the second quarter of the year.

This is an increase on the 14.1 per cent rise in the first quarter and 2.1 per cent higher than during the same period of 2020.

According to research from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), there has now been more than three years of increasing vacancy rates in the retail sector.

Currently, around one in seven shops remain shuttered.

During the same period, all locations saw a rise in vacancies.

“It comes as no surprise that the number of shuttered stores in the UK continues to rise, after retailers have been in and out of lockdown for over a year,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC. “While vacancy rates are rising across all retail locations, it is shopping centres, with a high proportion of fashion retailers, that have been the hardest hit by the pandemic.”

Shopping centres saw vacancies surge to 19.4 per cent, compared to 18.4 per cent in the first quarter of the year.

On the High Street, vacancies rose by 14.5 per cent compared to 14.1 per cent in the previous quarter.

Retail Park vacancies increased slightly to 11.5 per cent, up from 10.6 per cent in Q1. However, it remains the location with by far the lowest rate.

Dickinson added that nearly one in five shopping centre units are empty, with over one in eight units having been vacant for over a year.

“Retail parks have also been impacted from the loss of anchor stores and their vacancy rate is rising quickly,” she said. “The regional contrast is stark – the south of England, including London have seen lower vacancy rates, while the North, where disposable income is lower, continues to have a higher proportion of closed shops.”

The chief exec warned that the vacancy rate could rise further now the Covid-19 business rates holiday has come to an end.

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