Vacant store figures 'continue to fall', research finds

There will be fewer vacant stores in the UK in 2023, new research has found.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) found that the overall vacancy rate in the UK reduced to 13.8 per cent – an improvement of 0.6 per cent compared to the same period of 2021.

Shopping Centre vacancies declined to 18.2 per cent, down from 18.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2022.

High Street vacancies were down from 13.9 per cent in the third quarter to 13.8 per cent.

Retail Park vacancies reached 9 per cent in quarter four, a 0.7 per cent improvement compared to the third quarter.

Geographically, the BRC found that Greater London, South East and East of England had the lowest vacancy rates. The highest rates were in the North East, Wales, and the West Midlands.

“While the number of empty stores reduced in the final quarter of 2022, vacancy rates have not recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Retail occupancy was boosted by the return of international tourists visiting UK towns and cities and more frequent visits to offices,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC.

Dickinson added that the first half of 2023 will likely continue to be challenging for retailers but said the situation should improve in the second half of the year, as inflationary pressures begin to ease and consumer confidence is expected to return.

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