English shop vacancies reach over a quarter in some Northern areas

‘14% of High Street shops are empty’

14 per cent of High Street shops are vacant on average in England, with over a quarter of shops vacant in some Northern areas.

The vacancy rate in the top 650 British shopping centres has fallen from 14.2 to 14.1 per cent, the BBC reports.

“Whilst the rise of empty shops has stalled it still remains stubbornly high for many towns,” said Matthew Hopkinson, director of High Street occupancy and vacancy tracker Local Data Company.

“A significant number are ‘long-term sick’ with little or no prospect of reoccupation as shops”.

The North seems to suffer more than the South; Blackburn hit 26.9 per cent of vacancies while only seven per cent of Cambridge shops were empty – the lowest proportion of the 1,900 centres studied.

The greatest region for occupancy was London, with an average 9.4 per cent vacancy rate, while the North West is the most empty, with 20.1 per cent.

Shops had been converted into restaurants, bars, cafes, betting shops and other leisurely uses, said Hopkinson. The study said that over 500 new leisure units appeared in the first half of 2013.

Mary Portas, a retail expert known as ‘Mary Queen of Shops’ on her television programmes, last week told MPs that critics had “battered” her attempts to revitalise the High Street.

Portas added that traditional High Streets had been “in decline” for two decades and would take a long time to reverse.

Portas referred to her 2011 report, which she claimed had been responsible for half of the government’s actions to revive the High Street, as a “catalyst for change”.

Image of boarded up shop courtesy of Shutterstock.co.uk

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