Thought leadership

The Local Data Company, which monitors more than 2,000 town and shopping centres and retail parks and whose chief exec Matthew Hopkinson is presenting at Engage Customer’s Retail Customer Engagement Directors Forum on April 24 said average vacancy rates were below 14% for the first time in four years.

But his report also reveals a growing North-South divide, with some High Streets falling into further decline.  However, there are still more than 50,000 empty shops in town centres.

Hopkinson also said thast while some retailers were getting to grips with the fact that their customers want to interact with them both online and in store others were not really getting it. There would be winers and losers

At its peak in 2012, vacancy rates were 14.6%, compared with 13.9% in December. Some of the vacancies were filled by food and leisure businesses.

The report highlights shows big regional variations. Vacancy rates in the North West, North East and East of England have all increased in the past 12 months. The North West is the worst hit with more than 17% of shops empty – more than double the percentage in London.

The data also shows the increasing impact of large shopping centres and retail parks and their dominance of the retail landscape.

Analysis of the 12 biggest shopping centres found most of the surrounding weaker towns and High Streets continue to decline, raising questions over their future direction and viability.



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