Shop vacancies rise as Covid-19 causes ongoing uncertainty

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Local Data Company vacancy rates BRC covid-19
High street vacancies increased from 12.4% to 13.3%
// Vacancy rates increase during third quarter of 2020
// The overall vacancy rate rose to 13.2%, up from 12.4% in the second quarter
// All locations reported the vacancy increase although shopping centres were the worst hit

New research has found that the number of shuttered shops across the UK has increased in the third quarter as the Covid-19 pandemic creates high levels of uncertainty.

The overall vacancy rate rose to 13.2 per cent in the third quarter of this year, up from 12.4 per cent in the second quarter, according to the BRC and the Local Data Company’s Vacancy Monitor.

All locations reported the vacancy increase although shopping centres were the worst hit, with an increase to 16.3 per cent compared to 14.3 per cent in the previous quarter.


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High street vacancies increased from 12.4 per cent to 13.3 per cent, while retail park vacancies increased by 9.2 per cent, compared to 8.3 per cent in the previous quarter – but had the overall lowest vacancies.

“With a second wave of the pandemic underway, we have seen a record increase in the number of shuttered shops,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“Shopping centres fared the worst among retail sites due to the higher proportion of fashion outlets, where consumer demand has been hit hardest.

“The uncertain climate has also meant that even those looking to expand are holding off making investments in new stores.

“As a result, we expect to see the retail vacancy rate continue to rise.

“The government’s business rates holiday has mitigated some of the impact of the pandemic on shop vacancies and local communities.

“If retailers see a return of 100 per cent business rates next April, the consequences will be severe; the government should ensure that rates bills reflect current market reality by continuing a level discount at 50 per cent, thereby creating a more sustainable cost base for businesses so they can continue to trade and invest in recovery and longer term growth.

“Without this, there will be unnecessary store closures and the loss of thousands of otherwise viable jobs.”

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