Shop vacancy rates across the UK declined in December for the third consecutive month, data released today reveals.
Rates decreased by 0.6 per cent over the month, according to the Local Data Company (LDC) while town centre vacancy rates fell below 14.5 per cent for the third month to 14.25 per cent.
Such figures are surprising given recent widely-publicised administrations, though Matthew Hopkinson, Director at the LDC, explained: “This further decrease reflects the seasonal nature of retailing and the increase in the number of pop up shops across the country.
“In light of recent administrations and the number of distressed retailers being quoted I fear that we will see a rise in the number of vacant shops as we enter 2013.
“There is the potential for a doubling of closures from what we have seen in 2012.”
Yesterday, high street retailer Marks and Spencer and charity Oxfam opened a ‘shwopping’ pop-up shop at the retailer’s Marble Arch flagship in London and over the festive period, pop-up shops appeared on high streets across the country to entice shoppers during the busiest period of the year.
However, consumers are migrating online in growing numbers and Hopkinson noted the importance of high street retailers creating experiential spaces to maintain footfall and boost sales.
He said: “Aside from the numbers, it is interesting to increasingly come across more and more innovative ideas as to how we can tackle vacant units from independents combining forces under one roof to the use of derelict shopping centres for war gaming or even being chased about by zombies!
“Technology is the key driver in all things retail and the impending arrival of 4G across all networks is likely to further accelerate this.”