Number of empty retail premises falls

But remains significantly higher than pre-recession figures
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Retail estate firm Colliers has revealed the number of retail vacancies in shops across the UK fell for the third consecutive six-month period. But is this really the good news it appears to be?

On the surface, perhaps. Colliers' new report shows that at October 2011 the vacancy rate (units) was at 12.7 per cent, compared to 13.3 per cent six months previously. The same is true by floorspace - nine per cent, down from 9.7 per cent.

However the story was much better back in 2006, when by units vacancies were at 7.3 per cent, and 6.4 per cent for vacant floorspace. Whilst the recession has hit hard, retailers (and landlords, no doubt), will be hoping for the situation to pick up soon.

Colliers is not sure it can just yet. It commented: "The market is difficult to call. Retail sales (ONS figures) for December and January were stronger than forecast, yet anecdotal evidence and economic data paint a bleaker picture. On balance, there is every possibility that vacancy rates will be higher at our next (April 2012) survey date."

You can read the full report - the National Retail Barometer - here.

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