Vacancy rates in UK town centres have risen unexpectedly for the first time this year, new figures show.
The national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 10.3% in October, an increase from July’s rate of 10.1%, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) announced today.
The news came as footfall fell 1.4% last month, compared to a 0.6% in September.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said she is disappointed by the results. "There had been some hope that the amount of empty shops would dip below the 10% threshold for the first time since we began collecting this data. This has sadly not transpired,” she said.
"Encouraging shoppers back to the high street is crucial to reducing the number of vacancies. However, we’ve seen that visitor numbers on our High Streets are down again, this month by 1.4%. In order to drive up footfall, some local areas need to continue to learn from more successful town centres by encouraging pop-ups, using empty premises as community spaces or even as arts venues to ensure that empty shops don’t become a blight on the local area.
“Consideration needs to be given to how people want to use their high streets now and in the future,” she added.