It has been reported that there was an 85% increase of vacant short-term outlets since Q4 2015.
The Local Data Company (LDC) found that units which have been vacant for less than a year had increased to 2,109 in Q1 2016, a substantial increase from Q4 2015’s amount of 1,141.
Overall, March’s shop vacancy level was at 12.5%, which is the lowest since January 2010, while shopping centre vacancy stood at 13.2%, down by 1.5% compared to the same point in 2015.
Meanwhile, retail park vacancies saw an improvement across the UK, reaching 6%.
For the third month in a row town centre vacancy rates were unchanged at 10.9%, however the local rate in Scotland saw a 0.5% increase compared to the same point in 2015.
Commenting on the findings, Director of the LDC, Matthew Hopkinson, said: “There are two key areas of note in this data. The first, is that short term vacant units are remaining vacant for longer.
“This begs the question of whether optimal occupation levels have been achieved in many locations or not. Should the trend continue, the increased polarisation between locations where shops close and open versus those where shops just close, would grow.”
He goes on to say that the polarisation is seen clearly at a regional level, noting that the number of units vacant in Wales, the West, North East and West Midlands for over three years has doubled more than London and the South West.
Mr Hopkinson concluded: “Consumer confidence remains fragile and April has seen the arrival of the National Living Wage, which will increase costs significantly for retailers.
“Only time will tell as to who will have to reduce their number of shops accordingly, by focusing their investment on the healthier locations whilst the weaker locations continue to weaken and lose any shopping attractions that they might currently have.”
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