Retail vacancy rates edge up in second quarter
New figures have revealed that shop vacancies increased to 12.4% in the second quarter of 2020 from 12.2% in the previous quarter.
Data from the British Retail Consortium and The Local Data Company shows that shopping centres, high streets and retail parks all saw their vacancy rates rise in the period
While shopping centre vacancies climbed to 14.3% from the first quarter’s 14.1%, high street vacancies rose to 12.4% from a previous 12.3%.
Meanwhile, retail parks saw their vacancies increase to 8.3% in the quarter from the previous period’s 8.2%. These locations fared better than others due to their wide mix of food and non-food retailers, extra space and on-site parking.
Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: “The second quarter rise in the vacancy rate across retail sites was modest, as Government support allowed many locations to survive lockdown. However, the full effects of the pandemic are yet to be seen, with Government slowly withdrawing the relief that substantially reduced costs over the last period. How many stores are left standing will depend on how demand recovers going forward and the recent rise in vacancy rates is just the beginning.”
The figures show that the Greater London area experienced the highest increase of all UK regions with a rise from 8.9% to 9.1% .
Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at The Local Data Company, said the organisation is predicting a spike in vacancies as the real fallout of the pandemic becomes apparent after seeing a 0.2% increase in the first three weeks of the third quarter.
She added: “Towns which will be hit the hardest will be those with a vacancy rate higher than the GB average pre-Covid-19 and those with a low number of ‘essential’ retailers which would not have been able retain as much footfall during lockdown.
“This being said, at the same time we are tracking an increase in the amount of retail property which is being redeveloped for other uses, such as office or residential, an example of this being the planned conversion of the House of Fraser store in Westfield into flexible office space. With the relaxation of planning permission announced by the Government, this is another trend we expect to increase long-term and will ultimately temper the increase in vacant units over time.”
Photo by Georgia Hawkins
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