UK shop vacancy rate increases to 13.2% in Q3

Shops in the UK are continuing to shutter, with the average shop vacancy rate increasing to 13.2% in the third quarter, according to data released by the Local Data Company and British Retail Consortium (BRC).

On the high street, vacancies increased to 13% over the same period, in line with the overall rate.

Vacancies in retail parks rose slightly to 9.2% in the third quarter, up from 8.3% in the second.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said: “With a second wave of the pandemic underway, we have seen a record increase in the number of shuttered shops. 

“Shopping centres fared the worst among retail sites due to the higher proportion of fashion outlets, where consumer demand has been hit hardest.”

She added: “The uncertain climate has also meant that even those looking to expand are holding off making investments in new stores. As a result, we expect to see the retail vacancy rate continue to rise.”

Lucy Stainton, head of Retail and Strategic Partnerships at the Local Data Company, said: “The sharp increase in the vacancy rate in Q3 is illustrative of the immediate impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on retail and hospitality.

“This is a record increase in any one quarter since we began tracking vacancy and whilst it’s not right to assume that this spells the end of physical retailing, it does reflect the immense pressure on operators trading through a pandemic.”

She added: “This is compounded by the demonstrable lack of businesses looking to open new stores when sites become vacant.”

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