Retail vacancy rates rise despite ease of Covid restrictions

Retail vacancy rates
Retail vacancy rates rose in the last quarter
// Retail vacancy rates increased to 14.5% in the last quarter
// Regionally, the North East has the most vacant space recorded

New research has shown that retail vacancy rates rose in the last quarter despite the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

According to new figures from the Local Data Company, overall vacancy rates increased from 14.1 per cent in the first quarter to 14.5 per cent.

The asset type that incurred the highest levels of vacancy were shopping centres with 19.4 per cent of empty space, followed by high streets – 14.5 per cent and retail parks – 11.5 per cent.

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“It comes as no surprise that the number of shuttered stores in the UK continues to rise, after retailers have been in and out of lockdown for over a year,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“It is shopping centres, with a high proportion of fashion retailers, that have been the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“Almost one in five shopping centre units now lie empty, and more than one in eight units have been empty for more than a year.”

Regionally, the North East has the most vacant space recorded, at 20.6 per cent, followed by Wales – 19.5 per cent and the North West – 18.1 per cent.

While Greater London had the lowest vacancy rate in the second quarter at 11.1 per cent, this was higher than the 9.1 per cent seen in the second quarter last year, when the UK went into the first lockdown.

Local Data Company insight analytics senior manager, Ronald Nyakairu said: “Vacancy rates are unlikely to drop due to the lack of demand for the empty units and the continued closure of brands generally.

“However, the rate of increase has slowed. We may see a 0.1 per cent drop in the later months, but it will not be significant as we move into H1 2022.

“There may be some mass closures, but the majority of the pandemic impact is likely to filter into H1 2022 when the government support package begins to ease away.”

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  1. Until government reform business rates the only people that can afford the huge business rates bills are government departments. A former Curry’s Digital store empty for 5 and half years earmarked for Slug and Lettuce but stopped by pandemic is now to be a second JCP office.

    No one else would take that large unit on as secondary retail and lots of voids post pandemic and Business Rates are the problem. Until that is reformed you won’t even get Independent stores opening which is what many places need to thrive and some chains to survive.


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