Vacancy rates stabilise in 2011 but north-south divide grows

That’s the message from the Local Data Company, whose latest shop vacancy report – entitled The Good, The Bad and The (Very) Ugly – revealed that although the three-fold increase in overall vacancy rates since 2007 has finally halted, in some centres – notably those in the north of England and Midlands – one in three shops stands vacant, while in others – mostly south of the Watford Gap – vacancies are at pre-recession levels. “The short and medium view is that this is unlikely to improve significantly due to the current economic climate, the rise of alternative sales channels and the number of shops the country has,” the report said.

The study also provides increasing evidence that retailer pain is not spread evenly between the high street and suburban shopping centres, with results from several large, retail-owning property companies showing that their revenues have been surviving any tenant difficulties with ease. “Solid rental growth, footfall and occupancy levels demonstrate that prime properties are taking market share away from other locations,” it continues.

“This report shows how fragile the British High Street is in parts of the country,” commented Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson. “The stark reality is that Great Britain has too many shops in the wrong locations and of the wrong size. The diversity of shop vacancy rates is clear evidence that a local approach is required that ties in with consumer needs and the realities of modern retailing. The market still has significant corrections ahead and the impact of these will vary significantly according to location.”

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For more information, please visit www.localdatacompany.com.


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