New figures bring glimmer of hope for shop vacancy rate
New figures have brought a glimmer of hope to UK shopping destinations after showing that the UK shop vacancy rate declined to 14.4% in the final quarter of 2012. This was the first time that the number of shuttered shops fell since the start of 2018.
According to the figures from the British Retail Consortium and Local Data Company, this was 0.1 percentage points below the third quarter level and 0.7 percentage points higher than at the same time in 2020.
The data also reveals that shopping centre vacancies improved to 19.1% in the quarter while high street vacancies improved slightly to 14.4%. Meanwhile, retail park vacancies remained at 11.3% in the period.
The lowest vacancy rates were seen in the south of the UK, but rates were much higher in Scotland and the north.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “It remains to be seen how Omicron will have impacted the number of store closures, but given the third lockdown in England had little impact on the vacancy rate, we are hopeful that the trajectory will remain positive. However, with hybrid working unlikely to disappear any time soon, it will be difficult for vacancy rates to fully recover in our town and city centres.”
Lucy Stainton, director of Local Data Company, added: “This is the first real indication that the most significant structural impacts of the pandemic are potentially at their peak for certain regions, and operators, landlords and local government alike can start to rebuild after a particularly turbulent period.”