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News - 10 September 2010

UK shop vacancy rate increases

Research by the Local Data Company shows that UK town centre retail vacancy rates have risen from 12% in December 2009 to 13% at the end of June 2010. How is Brighton holding up?

But the report has highlighted big regional differences across the country with vacancy rates substantially higher in cities in the North and the West Midlands than in the South.

The report analysed 700 town centres. It showed that vibrant cities like Bristol have half the number of vacant shops as Altrincham, the worst affected town with a vacancy rate of 30%.

Average vacancy rates for June 2010 were as follows:

  • North-West: 15.3%
  • West Midlands: 13.4 %
  • Yorkshire and the Humber: 13.3 %
  • North-East: 13 %
  • London: 9.9 %
  • South-West: 9.8 %
  • Scotland: 9 %
  • Wales: 9 %
  • South-East: 10.5%
  • East of England: 8.6 %

The figures show a clear north-south divide in shop vacancies across the country. The big town centres in London and the South-East are holding up well, while further north, retail is still struggling badly.

Matthew Hopkinson, business development director at the Local Data Company, said: "Our latest report shows the reality of a slowed, but still rising, increase in shop vacancy rates across the country. The impact of the VAT increase, public sector cuts and fierce competition within the retail environment make it increasingly hard for shops on our high streets."

In Brighton the latest vacancy rate figures for the city centre are 8.8% [see earlier story] but this masks considerable variations on a street-by-street basis. Preston Street, for instance has a vacancy rate of over 18% whereas most of the streets in The Lanes are around 5%.

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