The trade association’s data revealed that one in seven of the country’s retail shops remain empty due to the pandemic.
In the first quarter of 2021, the overall vacancy rate in the UK rose to 14.1%, from 13.7% in the final quarter of last year.
This figure represents the third annual increase in the country’s vacancy rates since the first quarter in 2018.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of BRC, said: “The number of vacant units has continued to increase in the first three months of this year across the country, despite much of the market being temporarily closed during the third lockdown.
“With this in mind, and despite these percentages increasing significantly, we would argue that we have not yet seen the true impact of this 3rd lockdown and this will only be obvious once the market has had the chance to re-open fully.”
She added: “We have seen a number of household names announcing further store closures or indeed, disappearing from our high streets entirely showing how challenged physical retail continues to be.”
Lucy Stainton, director of retail and strategic partnerships at LDC, said: “This being said, the early indications from the first few weeks of the “unlocking” have shown there is still significant demand for physical retail and eating out.
“Hopefully, as consumer confidence continues to build momentum with reduced covid-19 cases, more of the population vaccinated and warmer weather, further fall out from the pandemic might be mitigated somewhat.”