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Gloucestershire Business News

More empty shops

More shops are lying empty according to latest research, despite the easing of Covid restrictions.

Analysis from the Local Data Company shows overall vacancy rates increased from 14.1% in the first quarter to 14.5%. Shopping Centres were worst affected at 19.4%, with the high street next on 14.5% and retail parks at 11.5%.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: "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."

She added that the vacancy rate could rise further now the Covid-19 business rates holiday has come to an end.

She said: "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."

Regionally, the North East has the most vacant space recorded, at 20.6%, followed by Wales - 19.5% and the North West - 18.1%.

Ronald Nyakairu, Local Data Company insight analytics senior manager, said: "Vacancy rates are unlikely to drop due to the lack of demand for the empty units and the continued closure of brands generally.

"There may be some mass closures, but the majority of the pandemic impact is likely to filter into H1 2022 when the government support package begins to ease away."

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