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Published on July 15th, 2016 | by The GC Team

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Shop vacancy rates remain stable in June

Britain’s shop vacancy rate remained at 12.3% in June, down 0.5% from the same time last year and the lowest since November 2009.

Data released today by the Local Data Company showed that the change was driven by a 13% year-on-year increase in the number of new units and a 43% increase in the number of vacant units demolished.

Vacancy rate by location type (retail and leisure)

Shopping centres recorded the greatest fall in vacancy rates, down 1.6% to 13.2%, with the West Midlands (-2.2%) and North East (-3.8%) showing the biggest fall and Wales the only area to see a rise (+0.4) in the 12 months since June 2015.

Retail park vacancy rates dropped by 0.9% to 5.7%. The West Midlands, North West and Wales saw the biggest improvements, down 1.9%, 1.8% and 1.7% respectively.

In town centres, the vacancy rate fell 0.5% year on year, to 10.7%.  Scotland was the only region to see an increase, up 0.8% in the last 12 months.

Matthew Hopkinson, Director at LDC, said: “The increase in demolished units that the LDC shows is a positive sign of structural change and is what is required in many locations up and down the country. Short-term vacant units are not the issue; it is units vacant for longer than two years that indicate oversupply and detract from the health of a location.”

Persistent vacancy rates (January to June 2016)

The number of persistently vacant units – i.e. those that have remained vacant for over the three years and are therefore unlikely to be reoccupied – fell by 189 (1.6%), compared to the start of 2016.

The average percentage for all units vacant in Britain for more than three years is 4.4%, with the North East recording the highest vacancy rate (7.3%) and Greater London recording the lowest (2.3%).

“These numbers do not reflect the BREXIT fallout which will take time to show in the data as a result of any change in openings or closures and thus the take up or not of vacant units up and down the country,” said LDC’s Hopkinson.

“With retailer and leisure operators being challenged by profitability as a result of increased costs and competition, coupled now by a significant drop in consumer confidence, then one would expect that change to be afoot.”

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