Shop vacancy rates have risen above 10%, up from 9.6% in April, according to the latest BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor.

Footfall in July was 0.4% down on a year ago, better than the 2.8% fall in June. High street footfall increased for the second time in three months, up 0.3% in July, but footfall to retail parks and shopping centres continued to decline.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE says: “Today’s figures remain lacklustre with total footfall down again, this month by 0.4%. Retailers will have taken comfort from the fact that recent BRC figures show that total sales grew over the same period. Given the decline in footfall is slowing and high street locations actually reported an increase in shopper numbers of 0.3%, some retailers in some locations may have some reasons to be cheerful.

“Of greater cause for concern is the rise in shop vacancy rates to 10.1%. The increase in the number of empty shops is an unwelcome reminder of the heavy burden of property costs. After a long run of shop vacancies being below 10%, seeing them rise over that threshold once again will be a bitter disappointment to many.

“The retail industry is undergoing a transformation driven by technology which is changing the way we shop. Shoppers are demanding more a personalised service and a seamless interaction between physical and digital. With UK property taxes higher than anywhere else in the developed world they act as a disincentive to operate physical space. Today’s figures should serve as a wake-up call. If property costs in general, and business rates in particular, continue ever upwards, we should all be concerned about the impact on our local communities up and down the country.”