National shop vacancies stabilise


Almost two-thirds of UK towns have seen shop vacancy levels increase by more than 10% over the past three years.


According to the Local Data Company’s latest report, The Good, the Bad and the (Very) Ugly, 64% of the 75 centres studied showed shop vacancy increases of 10% or higher. Some towns, including Stockton-on-tees, Bradford and Wolverhampton, recorded increases of more than 20%.


Declines in vacancy rates were recorded in just 7% of towns studied, including Guildford, Bath and Cardiff.


In the first six months of 2011, vacancy levels have started to stabilise, averaging 14.5%, according to LDC.


Large centres – defined as towns with more than 400 stores – have fared worse than their smaller counterparts, recording vacancy rates of 17% and 12% respectively. LDC said that smaller towns performed better because of the prevalence of independent retailers.


Town centres in the North and the Midlands have been worst affected by retail vacancies, with the North West having the highest average rate of 17%. Average shop vacancies in the South and London were at or below 11%.


LDC director Matthew ­Hopkinson said: “The stark reality is that Great Britain has too many shops in the wrong locations and of the wrong size. The market still has significant corrections ahead and the impact of these will vary significantly according to location.”