Number of empty shops continues to rise across UK post-Covid

The number of empty shops in high streets, retail parks and shopping centres has increased in the past three months, according to new data.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Local Data Company (LDC) found that shopping centres were the hardest hit, with nearly one in five units sitting empty – a 19.4 per cent vacancy rate – followed by high streets with a vacancy rate of 14.5 per cent and retail parks at 11.5 per cent in the second quarter of the year compared with the first three months of 2021.

Overall vacancy rates were 14.5 per cent in Britain, up from 14.1 per cent in the first quarter of the year – meaning the number of empty shops has increased for the past three years.

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“It comes as no surprise that the number of shuttered stores in the UK continues to rise, after retailers have been in and out of lockdown for over a year,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“While vacancy rates are rising across all retail locations, it is shopping centres, with a high proportion of fashion retailers, that have been the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“Almost one in five shopping centre units now lie empty, and more than one in eight units have been empty for more than a year.

“Retail parks have also been impacted from the loss of anchor stores and their vacancy rate is rising quickly.”

According to Dickinson, there is a sharp north-south divide with the south of England, including London, with lower vacancy rates compared with the north of the country, where disposable income is lower.

She added: “The vacancy rate could rise further now the Covid-19 business rates holiday has come to an end.

“The government must ensure the ongoing business rates review leads to reform of this broken system, delivering on its commitment to permanently reduce the cost burden to sustainable levels.”

with PA Wires.

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