Empty shops on UK high streets set to rise in 2012
A new report has claimed that the number of empty shops on UK high streets is set to rise in 2012.
The Local Data Company is forecasting an increase this year due to weak consumer confidence, the growth in online shopping, and the expansion of the supermarket sector.
Although shop vacancy rates stabilised at 14.3% in 2011, there are now 48,000 shops on the UK’s high streets standing empty.
The report revealed that there were huge regional differences in 2011 with the best performing centres mainly in the South and West and the worst in the North and Midlands.
While St Albans in the South saw one of the lowest vacancy rates of less than 9%, Stockport in the North West had the highest rate at over 30%. Blackburn, Blackpool, Grimsby, Nottingham, Stockton, Wolverhampton, and Walsall all had vacancy rates of over 25%.
Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said: "The stable top line rate of 2011 hides the significant breadth in town centre vacancy rates up and down the country. The odds are stacked against a positive take-up of shops and as such the new reality of 48,000 empty shops is here to stay unless an alternative use or purpose can be found."
Commenting on the figures, Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium said: "The scale of retail failures since Christmas and number of shops standing empty show the effects of high costs and weak demand on retail businesses and the people and places that rely on them."
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