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Shop vacancies drop to lowest rate in over three years

The number of empty shops in town centres across the UK fell to the lowest level in over three years in December, new figures have revealed.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Shop vacancies drop to lowest rate in over three years

The Local Data Company’s monthly barometer of shop vacancy rates has shown a significant improvement in December, with the number of vacant units falling to 13.9% from 14.1% in November.

This is the first time since July 2010 that vacancy rates in the UK have dropped below the 14% mark.

Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said: “December’s drop in the shop vacancy rate is very significant and reflects the more positive outlook that we have seen over the last few months. Whilst December is THE month to take occupation of a shop it is wider changes that have resulted in this drop below 14% which we have not seen for over three years.”

The Local Data Company said shop vacancy rates had benefited from a fall in the number of administrations in 2013 as well as from landlords being more flexible on lease lengths which had led to a rise in pop-up shops. In addition, an increasing number of vacant units are being converted to leisure use.

Hopkinson added: “December’s drop in the shop vacancy rate is a significant step in what one hopes is the final stages in the significant rebalancing of our town centres to meet the needs of the modern consumer. Change will continue and what is of interest is which towns are showing this improvement, as not all are and in some cases terminal decline is still very evident.”

The study estimates that there are now 21,975 vacant shops in the top 650 town centres across the UK. 

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