Britain burdened by over-supply of shops

Town centre vacancy rates in Great Britain have stabilised at 14.5% during the first half of 2011, but one in three shops currently stand empty in some corners of the country, a new report has revealed.

According to The Local Data Company’s latest Shop Vacancy report, this is unlikely to improve significantly in the short-to-mid term due to the current economic climate, the rise of alternative sales channels and the sheer number of retail premises.

In the south, average vacancy rates are typically 11% or below, while the Midlands and North range from just under 13% in the East Midlands to 16% in the North West.

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Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said the report shows how fragile the British High Street is in parts of the country.

“The stark reality is that Great Britain has too many shops in the wrong locations and of the wrong size,” he said. “The diversity of shop vacancy rates is clear evidence that a local approach is required that ties in with consumer needs and the realities of modern retailing. The market still has significant corrections ahead and the impact of these will vary significantly according to location.”

The top ten worst-performing large shopping centres are in the West Midlands and the North while seven out of the top ten best large centres are in the South.

The large centres (those with 400+ shops), see an average vacancy rate of nearly 17% at the half year, but this is in a range that runs between 6.4% in Shepherds Bush to 27.7% in Stockport.

Medium centres (with between 200 and 399 shops) fare slightly better with an average of just over 14% and small centres (with between 50 and 199 shops) better still at just over 12%.

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