21 June 2024, 20:57
By Furniture News Aug 02, 2021

One in seven shops still vacant, says BRC-LDC

In Q2 2021, the overall GB vacancy rate increased to 14.5%, from 14.1% in Q1, according to the latest BRC-LDC Vacancy Monitor.

This made it 2.1 percentage points higher than in the same point in 2020, and the latest in over three years of increasing vacancy rates, from Q1 2018.

All locations saw an increase in vacancies in Q2, with shopping centre vacancies increasing to 19.4% from Q1’s 18.4%.

On the high street, vacancies increased to 14.5% in Q2 – remaining in line with the overall rate. This was up from 14.1% in Q1.

Retail park vacancies increased slightly to 11.5% in Q1 2021, up from 10.6% in Q1. However, it remains the location with by far the lowest rate.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, says: “It comes as no surprise that the number of shuttered stores in the UK continues to rise, after retailers have been in and out of lockdown for over a year. While vacancy rates are rising across all retail locations, it is shopping centres, with a high proportion of fashion retailers, that have been the hardest hit by the pandemic. Almost one in five shopping centre units now lie empty, and more than one in eight units have been empty for more than a year. Retail parks have also been impacted from the loss of anchor stores and their vacancy rate is rising quickly.

"The regional contrast is stark – the south of England, including London have seen lower vacancy rates, while the North, where disposable income is lower, continues to have a higher proportion of closed shops.

“The vacancy rate could rise further now the Covid-19 business rates holiday has come to an end. The Government must ensure the ongoing business rates review leads to reform of this broken system, delivering on its commitment to permanently reduce the cost burden to sustainable levels. The longer the current system persists, the more jobs losses and vacant shops we will see, hurting staff, customers and communities up and down the country.”

Lucy Stainton, director of the Local Data Company, adds: “Vacancy across GB high streets, retail parks and shopping centres continued to rise in Q2 2021. However, the increase was half that of the same period in 2020, alluding to the fact that, like the pandemic, there is hope that we are over the worst. After an initial flurry of CVAs, closures due to consumer behaviour shifts and cost-cutting exercises, retailers are now starting to dust themselves off with cautious optimism, keeping a close eye on the rapidly changing infection rate and the pace at which vaccinations are taking place – two measures that could seriously derail recovery efforts should they not go in the right direction.

"Vacancy now sits at the highest rate ever recorded by the Local Data Company. With appetite for new space increasing but still modest, there will simply never be enough demand to meet the supply. The property market will be forced to think of more creative ways to utilise this space, to avoid exacerbating the already high rates of long-term voids across our retail destinations which are not only unsightly and costly for landlords, but also have a negative impact on surrounding stores.”

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