Britain’s shop vacancy rate fell to 13% in March from 13.1% in February – which represents a return to 2010 levels, according to the latest research released by the Local Data Company (LDC).
The overall retail and leisure vacancy rate also dropped slightly last month to 11.6% from 11.7% in February. Analysis of vacancy rates by occupation type shows that shop vacancy in March was 13% (-0.1%), leisure vacancy was 8.3% (0.0%), and ‘all’ (retail & leisure) vacancy rate was 11.6%(-0.1%).
LDC director Matthew Hopkinson commented: “These numbers are encouraging and reflect the wider positive news on consumer sentiment and spend. These numbers were last seen back in 2010 so it’s a cause for celebration!
“Recent closure news from B&Q and Morrisons show that these numbers can very easily change in the opposite direction. Whilst these numbers show more shops opening, we’re also seeing structural change, where shops are changing use to alternative uses – and March saw the largest number of demolished properties at 95 (compared with 40 in February).”
He added: “While one should not underestimate the challenges that retailers face with price deflation and a very savvy consumer, we’re continuing to see the growth of food and beverage outlets on our high streets, which will occupy vacant shops when planning allows.”
LDC visits over 2,700 towns and cities, retail parks and shopping centres. Each premises is visited and its occupancy status recorded as occupied, vacant or demolished. Vacant units are those units that did not possess a trading business at that location on the day visited. The shop vacancy index is based on the shop vacancy rates of the top 650 town centres.