The number of empty shops across England and Wales has risen from 4.5% to 12% over the past year, according to a report from the Local Data Company.
The document, which is backed by the British Property Federation, shows Margate to be one of the worst-hit areas, with vacancies increasing from 5% to 25%, while Derby’s figure is up from 8% to 22%.
The report was carried out across 700 town centres and is said to be the most in-depth of its kind.
All areas are suffering, but as the more industrial regions have experienced the most redundancies – with a knock-on impact on retailers – the north is the hardest hit.
The BPF says much of the blame for empty properties lies with the government, which has continued to tax them by making the leaseholders pay full business rates.
The federation wants to see empty property rates scrapped, along with as a rethink on changing the planning use of buildings to enable empty shops to be more efficiently used for non-retail pursuits.