Planning applications for stores drop 22% as retailers focus on digital

Planning applications bricks-and-mortar shop vacancy
The City of London saw planning applications for new shops and shopping centres fall by 59%
// Planning applications for new shops drop 22% across England due to lockdown
// Applications have fallen from 3908 to 3037 as store vacancies rise
// The vacancy rate for retail units across the UK had reached 13.2% in the third quarter of 2020

Planning applications for new stores have declined by 22 per cent across England as bricks-and-mortar continues to suffer amid Covid-19.

Applications have fallen from 3908 to 3037 as retailers continue to prioritise their online channels during lockdown.

The City of London saw planning applications for new shops and shopping centres fall by 59 per cent from 37 to 15, while York was the city with the largest decline of 91 per cent from 11 to 1, according to research by law firm Boodle Hatfield.


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Dartmouth and Totnes in Devon saw the largest decrease in applications across all 328 areas in England covered by the study, with a 94 per cent fall.

Developers are reducing their pipeline of retail developments as the lockdown has resulted in the closure of non-essential businesses.

Footfall on UK high streets fell 49.5 per cent in 2020 due to the forced closure of non-essential retailers, as well as the lack of office workers.

The firm said there are concerns that demand for some retail spaces may be slow to bounce back once lockdown ends.

The vacancy rate for retail units across the UK had reached 13.2 per cent in the third quarter of 2020 from 12.4 per cent the previous quarter

The latest vacancy monitor from the BRC and Local Data Company revealed that 13.7 per cent of all shops were empty during the quarter to the end of December.

Vacancy levels jumped from 13.2 per cent in the previous three-month period, as the monitor reported the 10th consecutive quarter of rising vacancies.

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1 COMMENT

  1. The reality is Canterbury had applications for a new Bubble tea store, a new Wickes and a new Aldi ( 2nd one) and Slug and Lettuce.

    All have been pulled in the city.
    More store closures with the Arcadia brands along side an empty Debenhams store from last year and further Moss Bros has gone cleared out that’s been there years.

    It’s a real shame. I hope the high street is able to recover as many will be shocked when shops reopen at the state of the high street.

    Sad for jobs, for the government with Business Rates and for pension funds.

    Major reform needs to be undertaken urgently.

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