More than one in seven shops on UK high streets, retail parks and shopping centres are currently vacant, according to the latest data from the Local Data Company and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
The data revealed that fashion stores were amongst the “hardest hit” as customers primarily shifted to online shopping during the pandemic, and a lack of occasions to dress up for.
Meanwhile, almost one in five shopping centre units currently “lie empty”, and more than one in eight units have been empty for more than a year.
Retail parks have also been impacted from the loss of “anchor stores” with their vacancy rate rising quickly. However, the south of England, including London, have seen lower vacancy rates, while the North, where disposable income is lower, has continued to have a “higher proportion” of closed shops.
Helen Dickinson, the chief executive of the BRC, reiterated that the vacancy rate “could rise further” now the Covid-19 business rates holiday has come to an end.
She said: “The government must ensure the ongoing business rates review leads to reform of this broken system, delivering on its commitment to permanently reduce the cost burden to sustainable levels.
“The longer the current system persists, the more jobs losses and vacant shops we will see, hurting staff, customers and communities up and down the country.”
Lucy Stainton, director of Local Data Company, added: “Vacancy across GB high streets, retail parks and shopping centres continued to rise in Q2 2021, however the increase was half that of the same period in 2020, alluding to the fact that, like the pandemic, there is hope that we are over the worst.
“With the appetite for new space increasing but still modest, there will simply never be enough demand to meet the supply.”