Britain’s shop vacancy rate fell to 13 per cent in March from a rate of 13.1 per cent in February.
Although this is a small percentage, it highlights a positive change in consumer sentiment and pending habits, reports the Local Data Company (LDC). It also shows that the number of vacant retail and leisure stores has fallen to as low as it was in 2010.
Matthew Hopkinson, director of LDC, said: “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 is 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 are opening, we are also seeing structural change where shops are changing use to alternate uses, and March saw the largest number of demolished properties at 95 (40 in February).
“Whilst one should not underestimate the challenges retailers face with price deflation and a very savvy consumer, we are continuing to see the growth of food and beverage outlets on our High Street, which will occupy vacant shops when planning allows.”
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) recently reported a record 2.1 per cent drop in shop prices, despite consumer confidence shooting up to a near 13-year high.
At the Future High Street Summit last month, Michael Weedon, deputy CEO of the British Retailers Association said that town centre managers need to do all they can to continue supporting retailers that have kept the High Street alive.
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