Retail parks bear brunt as empty shops rate rises
By Rob Freeman | 29th January 2021
The amount of retail space lying empty has hit record levels according to the latest industry figures.
According to the vacancy monitor compiled by the British Retail Consortium with the Local DatA Company, 13.7 per cent of UK shops were empty in the last three months of 2020.
That figure is up from 13.2 per cent in the previous three months.
The data does not include shops which have been forced to close due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
Shopping centres were hardest hit with the vacancy rate rising from 16.3 per cent to 17.1 per cent, while figures on the high street rose from 13.3 per cent to 13.7 per cent.
At retail parks the figure remained unchanged at 10 per cent.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "Over the past two years, one in every 50 outlets has permanently closed and this number will only go up.
"Social restrictions and their knock-on effect on consumer appetite for fashion have meant shopping centres are still faring the worst due to their high proportion of clothing outlets.
"What's more, due to economic uncertainty, many retailers have paused their plans for future investment in new stores."
She continued: "If Government wants to avoid unnecessary shop closures and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, it must urgently extend the business rates relief beyond April, providing additional targeted financial support to the hardest hit retailers, and extend the moratorium of aggressive debt enforcement.
"Without these interventions, not only will retail firms go under, but the vibrancy of our town centres and local communities across the country will be lost."
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