Lockdown sees “modest” increase in retail vacancy rates

Lockdown sees increase in retail vacancy rates
The rise in vacancy rates represented the 8th consecutive quarterly increase.
// Overall shop vacancy rates in the UK rises to 12.4%, up from 12.2%
// Shopping centre vacancy went from 14.1% to 14.3%, high streets 12.3% to 12.4%, and retail parks 8.2% to 8.3%
// The coronavirus lockdown was a driving factor behind the “modest” increases

The number of empty shops saw a “modest” increase across the UK over the past three months due to the impact of the coronavirus lockdown, according to new figures.

The quarterly BRC-LDC retail vacancy monitor revealed that 12.4 per cent of all shop units were vacant in the three months to the end of June.

This represented a slight uptick from 12.2 per cent in the first quarter, in the eighth consecutive quarter of increasing vacancy rates.

READ MORE: The general health of UK retail is at all-time low

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said the rise was “modest as government support allowed many locations to survive lockdown”.

All types of shopping destinations saw vacancy rates increase, with shopping centres having the highest proportion of empty units, at 14.3 per cent, after rising from 14.1 per cent in the previous quarter.

High streets saw the vacancy rate nudge higher to 12.4 per cent for the quarter, from 12.3 per cent.

Retail parks, which have seen steadier footfall since coronavirus hit, reported the lowest vacancy rate, at 8.3 per cent, although this also represented an increase after posting 8.2 per cent in the previous quarter.

“Covid has accelerated many of the changes in retailing already under way,” Dickinson said.

“Online continues to grow and retail stores should also have a vital role in our communities, supporting jobs and other businesses which rely on retail footfall.

“The shuttering of too many shops on our high streets will threaten the vibrancy of town centres and damage local economies.”

The report also revealed that London saw the highest increase in empty units, rising to 9.1 per cent, as it was particularly hammered by the pandemic.

Local Data Company (LDC) head of retail Lucy Stainton said: “Since 2018, retail vacancy has risen steadily across the UK, in part due to the widely-discussed oversupply of retail property given changing consumer demands.

“Despite seeing an initial jump in vacancy in Q2, it is still too soon to measure the full impact of the pandemic as almost half of the non-essential retail units that were eligible to reopen following June 15 were still temporarily closed as of July 1.

“Over the coming months, we are forecasting a spike in vacancy as the real fallout of the pandemic is felt.”

with PA Wires

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