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High street vacancy rate slows but number of empty shops remains ‘stubbornly high’

High street vacancy rate slows but number of empty shops remains ‘stubbornly high’

Despite Chancellor George Osborne’s recent comments that the economy had finally ‘turned a corner’, statistics from the Local Data Company are in stark contrast as the number of empty outlets on the high street remains high.

Although the rate at which shops are becoming empty has slowed, according to reports there are still one in seven high street shops standing vacant. Statistics also show that despite the high vacancy rate, new shops and leisure units have recently begun to display the most growth in the market.

The report revealed that over 500 new leisure units had been created in the first half of 2013, as many empty retail outlets were replaced by businesses such as cafes and betting shops.

Director at the Local Data Company, Matthew Hopkinson, said: “Restaurants, bars, cafes and even betting shops have come to the rescue as the growth of leisure takes off in our town centres.

“This report clearly shows that whilst the rise of empty shops has stalled, it still remains stubbornly high for many towns up and down the country.

“Since August 2010 the national average has been above 14 per cent, with a significant number being ‘long term sick’ with little or no prospect of reoccupation as shops.”

The average vacancy rate for Britain is now 14.1%, down on February’s figure of 14.2%. At 17.5%, Wales displayed the highest vacancy rate, followed by Scotland at 14.9% and England at 14%.

Regionally, the report displayed a vast North/South divide. Whilst London delivered the best results with a low vacancy rate of just 9.4%, the vacancy rate was double in the North West of England at 20.1%.

The report took its data from more than 1,900 town centres, shopping centres and retails parks during the first half of the year.

Julie Palmer

About the author

Julie Palmer

Regional Managing Partner

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Julie is a law graduate who qualified with Price Waterhouse in 1994. Julie joined Smith & Williamson in 1997 and became a partner in 2001. With Mike Stevenson, Julie set up Middleton Partners offices in Salisbury and Southampton, both of which are now part of Begbies Traynor.

Julie is a member of the Insolvency Practitioners Association and the None Administrative Receivers Association and is a Fellow of The Association of Business Recovery Professionals. Julie deals with all aspects of Corporate Recovery and turnaround work and takes all form of personal insolvency appointments.

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