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National shop vacancies fall to 7-year low

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In April national shop vacancy rates fell to their lowest level since 2009.

Last month saw a 0.6% drop in shop vacancies compared to the same point last year, reaching 12.4%: the lowest level since 2009, according to figures from the Local Data Company (LDC).

LDC claimed these figures were driven by a decrease in the number of units becoming vacant, a 16% fall compared to April 2015, as well 76% more units being removed from the overall stock.

“Recent results from retailers and profit warnings or downgrades from retailers show that this positive news might not be long-lived, but up to this date the story for many retailers is one of expansion,” said Director of Local Data Company, Matthew Hopkinson. “However, we don’t know for how long and it’s not happening everywhere. 2016 could see further dramatic news, such as we have seen with the administrations of BHS and Austin Reed.”

He was much more positive regarding the decision by landlords and local authorities to remove units that have been vacant for too long from the market.

“This is good news as, hopefully, it shows that landlords and local authorities are recognising that a unit that hasn’t been occupied for more than three years is very unlikely to ever be reoccupied, and therefore should be demolished or given an alternative use.”

Year on year, town centre vacancy rates dropped by 0.5% in April, though Scotland saw a rise of 0.8%. 

Vacancies in shopping centres, meanwhile, fell by 1.4%, with Scotland and the Northeast seeing the biggest drop. Wales, however, experienced a 0.2% increase.

Retail parks saw much more variance, with the Northeast seeing a 3.3% vacancy drop, compared to 3.5% in the West Midlands and a 0.4% increase in Scotland.

Published on Tuesday 17 May by Philip Gallagher

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