Overall shop vacancy rates across the UK fell in the six months to April 2011, according to new research released today.
During the period the total fell from 13.7 per cent to 13.3 per cent, whilst in terms of floorspace retail vacancy also declined from ten per cent last October to 9.7 per cent.
Commercial real estate firm Colliers International also found however that the discrepancy between empty shop rates at primary and secondary centres in the UK has widened, with a void total of 15 per cent for the latter virtually three times higher than the vacancy level for the former.
UK-wide retail vacancy is five times higher than that of central London, with difficult economic circumstances clearly having a more significant impact on shoppers away from major cities.
Dr Richard Doidge, Director of Research Consultancy at Colliers International, commented: “The end of the recession in Q4 2009 failed to lead to a period of sustained economic recovery.
“With the growth in GDP in Q1 2011 merely cancelling out the fall seen in Q4 2010, there has, in practice, been no expansion of the UK economy since the middle of last year.
“What’s more, the coalition government’s medicine for dealing with the huge national fiscal deficit (VAT, National Insurance, other tax hikes, substantial & early cuts in public spending), coupled with high inflation and limited wage growth, is now having a troublesome side effect - it is squeezing household disposable incomes.”
Earlier this month Head of Consultancy at CB Richard Ellis Jonathan De Mello argued that consumers’ seeming preference for shopping at large centres and multiple retailers should encourage councils to turn empty shops into residential properties.
Colliers’ latest research suggests that larger units are less likely to lay empty at present as they are in higher demand from retailers.