New data shows a decline in the number of vacant stores across the UK, however the figures between north and south vary greatly.
The vacancy rates went under 14% for the first time since July 2010. It fell to 13.9% during December 2013, compared to 14.6% during February 2012. This is suggestive of an improvement in the economy and the success of efforts to aid town centres.
The north-west and north-east of the country have the highest number of high street closures. Cities in the top ten include Morecambe, Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, Eccles, Bootle and Bolton. Including all high street business, the north-west has the highest level of vacancies at 17.3%, way above the national 12.2% average.
The best is London with vacancy rates of 8.1%. The variance in growth between the north and south of the UK is significant despite the attention on the fate of high streets and revival efforts. The report indicated that towns where there were less than 200 outlets have a vacancy rate of 9%, compared to 12% for medium towns and 15.4% in shopping centres. The lowest vacancy rate is at out of town retail parks where it sits at 8.9%, but is increasing.
25 JUNE 2014, United Kingdom