Shop vacancy rates fall to lowest level in 5 years

Britain’s shop vacancy rate fell to 13% in March, the lowest level since 2010 when the current government came to power.

The overall retail and leisure vacancy rate also fell slightly to 11.6% from 11.7% in February. Shop vacancy rates were also virtually unchanged.

Matthew Hopkinson, director at The Local Data Company, which compiles the monthly tracker 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.”

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Major retailers, including B&Q and Morrisons, have continued to reduce the size of their physical presence in towns and cities, but more stores and leisure outlets continue to take up the slack.

More retail space has also been converted to other uses, pushing up occupancy rates without necessarily increasing the total square footage across the country.

March also saw 95 retail properties completely demolished, up from just 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 outlest on our high streets which will occupy vacant shops when planning allows,” Hopkinson concluded.

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