New report finds the North-west the worst struck for empty stores, despite an overall improvement for vacancy rates.
The latest results from the British Retail Consortium revealed footfall on the high street rose 3.4 per cent year-on-year in April, the biggest increase since the run up to Christmas 2011. According to the results, which were compiled by the BRC and Springboard, the high street saw significantly more visitors in the month, compared with a 0.3 per cent rise in footfall for out-of-town centres, and a 3 per cent drop in shopping centres.
Terry Green, the former chief executive of BHS and Debenhams could be a possible contender for the position of chairman at Jaeger, according to reports from This Is Money over the weekend. Jaeger owner Better Capital is thought to have compiled a list of suitable candidates to replace Stuart Binnie, who left the premium fashion retailer in March.
With more than one in 10 shops in the UK’s town centres empty for October, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned the situation is likely to get worse, calling for a rate freeze for the year ahead. The trade association’s latest survey shows a national vacancy rate in high streets and shopping centres of 11.3 per cent, a 0.4 per cent rise from the month before and the highest the BRC has recorded with information group Springboard since it began compiling data in July 2011.
Shop vacancy rates stabilized in 2011 but the gap between the best and worst towns had widened.
The figures demonstrate that 14.5 per cent of shops remain empty. The report, carried out by the Local Data Company, highlights the significant divide the North and South. The average vacancy rate in the south stands at 11 per cent or below while in the Midlands and the North rates push closer to 13 per cent in the former and 16 per cent in the latter.
The top ten worst performing centres are in the West Midlands and the North while seven out of the top ten best centres are in the South.
Medium sized retail centres performed far better than their larger counterparts, averaging 14 per cent in comparison to the 17 per cent in their larger cousins.
New research published this morning by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows just how much the consumer downturn is affecting the UK’s high streets and retailers, with 20 stores on average closing every day.
In the second quarter of 2011 alone 375 retailers were forced to shut up shop for good, an increase of 9 percent from the same period last year.
According to the figures compiled by the Local Data Company, specialist clothing, shoes and jewellers were hardest hit this year, as retailers closed around 4,000 stores in the first five months of 2011. Although some of the closures were cancelled out by strong expansion for supermarkets, pawnbrokers and coffee shops, national vacancies still stand at 14.5 percent.
"High streets are at the heart of local communities and economies, providing jobs and essential services, but some are in trouble.” Stephen Robertson, director of the British Retail Consortium told press. “These figures are further evidence of the tough trading conditions being experienced by non-food retailers in particular. The government's review of the high street must result in urgent action."
Robertson went onto add that, "It's encouraging that not all regions are seeing a fall in retail premises; some have seen a net gain thanks to new stores opening. The priority must be protecting that growth and helping it spread to all parts of the country, boosting town centres and creating jobs."
Harrow Council has taken the battle for the high street into its own hands, by opening up London’s first mock-up shop. The Council hopes the move will attract new traders and investors to the area.
With 20 percent of Harrow’s retail units lying vacant, the Council had plenty of locations to choose from when setting up its fake florist which opens for business today. Fronted with the title “this retail space could be yours”, the fake shop is the first in a two year programme launched by Harrow to regenerate its retail centre.
Cllr Keith Ferry, portfolio holder for planning and economic development on Harrow Council, said: “The Council is doing everything it can to help our local shopping centres and businesses. They have been hard hit by the recession and this eye-catching and cost effective campaign is about showing the business potential in North Harrow, while improving the look of the high street.
“We want it to inspire investors to set up shop in the area and we are working with commercial agents to provide supporting market research.”
Watch the BBC New's video report on the launch here.
Shop vacancy rates dropped back in May to the national average of 14.5%, according to Estates Gazette's latest town centre health check, compiled by the Local Data Company.
The decrease follows a rise in vacancy rates for the first time this year across the country's towns and cities from 14.4% in March to 14.6% in April. Last month, the shop vacancy rate increased in Oldham to 24.2% and declined in Sheffield to 23.9%. However, 3.5% of shops were empty in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, and 6.9% in Chertsey, Surrey, were vacant.
Trevor Wood Associates (TWA) has reported the vacancy rate in out-of-town stores has fallen to a three-year low as retailers such as Next, Marks & Spencer and Tesco snap up the empty positions.
The vacancy rate fell to 9.2% by the end of last year, from 11.6% in 2009. According to Estates Gazette, the consultant said out of town was supplying what the public wanted with ease of access, car parking and variety. But the high street was not dead – it just needed “slight invigorating”. TWA sees potential for retail parks built on the edge of town centres, next to high street shops.
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