New figures: nearly 16% of shops lie empty
New figures released by local councils have suggested that 15.9% of all shops and retail outlets in the UK now lie empty.
Data obtained by Duff & Phelps under the Freedom of Information shows the scale of the challenge facing the UK high streets.
Philip Duffy, managing director of restructuring advisory at Duff & Phelps, said: “Getting an accurate picture of the real health of the high street is difficult, but by using FOI, we managed to gain valuable insight into what local authorities are experiencing. With a total of 418 councils in the UK, our mean average indicates that the total number of retail units that now lie empty stands at 50,578, or an average of 121 empty retail units per council.”
According to the ONS, there were 319,000 retail businesses in the UK in 2018. Given this figure, it is believed that the void rate now stands at 15.9% of the total.
Duffy said the impact of the issue on local government cannot be underestimated with empty units leading to lost rental and business rates income.
He added: “The old financial model of the traditional brick and mortar retailer—based on a high street or shopping centre built around them in the post war era—was centred on regular increases in sales and 25-year leases with upward rent reviews only. As a result, it has meant high rents and occupancy costs. This has blown apart as a result of both the discounters and the dramatic uptick in online sales. The remaining question is whether this picture continues throughout 2019 and if so, at what speed?”
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