New figures from the Local Data Company (LDC) have found that the West Midlands is still one of the worst affected regions in England for empty shops.
The region currently has three towns in the top 10 list of areas with the highest percentage of empty shops over the last three years.
The worst performing town in the region was Brownhills (4th) with a 19.1% vacancy rate, followed by Burslem (7th) with 18% and West Bromwich (8th) at 17.5%.
Meanwhile, in the North West, the situation is worse, with Skelmersdale suffering from the highest vacancy rate at 31%. This is followed by Walkden at 25.6% and Bacup with 18.8%.
Retail parks in West Midlands did however see the highest rate of improvement in England according to LDC figures. Vacancy rates in the year April 2015 to April 2016 at its retail parks dropped 3.5%.
Britain’s shop vacancies dropped 12.4% overall in April, which is the lowest since December 2009 and down 0.6% from last April.
Director at LDC, Matthew Hopkinson, commented: “Of the shops we have, more are occupied than ever before and remaining occupied for longer, but the LDC data shows the removal of units from the overall stock which is reflected by the decline in long term vacant units.”
He goes on to say that this is good news as it is showing that landlords and local authorities are starting to recognise a unit that hasn’t been occupied for over three years may not be occupied. This means it can then be either demolished or given different use.
Hopkinson warns that profit warnings or downgrades from retailers may not last long, concluding: “2016 could see further dramatic news such as we have seen with the administrations of BHS and Austin Reed.”