The nationwide average for shop vacancies in UK towns & cities has remained at 14.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2011, according to a new report published today.
Research from the Local Data Company (LDC) shows no change from the occupancy level seen at the beginning of 2011, despite the large number of retail firms falling into administration during the period.
LDC suggests this is due to huge regional variations and a high volume of betting shops, supermarkets and charity shops opening across the country, and it also points to an improvement in the opening of independent stores.
Multiple retailers such as Habitat, TJ Hughes and Focus DIY have all filed for insolvency during the year and others such as HMV and Mothercare have announced nationwide store closures and this could be storing up trouble for the future if the churn of new independent stores can not continue to replace these losses.
Mathew Hopkinson, Director of the LDC and report author, said: “In summary, the Q2 data shows increased stability in more centres.
“Of more concern is the potential for negative churn and increased vacancy off the back of multiple closures and wider economic issues taking hold, such as inflation in food and utility costs.”
Lancashire is the county with the largest average vacancy rate for its retail centres, 19 per cent, whilst with only eight per cent of shops empty Oxfordshire has the lowest level.
It is not just large centres which are attracting new retailers and keeping units occupied but regions vary greatly, with Winton near Bournemouth having only one per cent of its shops empty compared to a similar-sized town near Blackburn – Rawenstall – which has a vacancy rate of 40 per cent.