Vacancy rates rise across town centres

Published on Monday, 22 August 2011 09:11
Posted by Scott Buckler

The national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 11.2% in May 2011 (high streets and shopping centres). Northern Ireland (17.1%), Wales (13.4%) and the North and Yorkshire (13.1%) recorded the highest vacancy rates

July's footfall counts rose for all types of shopping locations compared with June due to the combination of summer sales and the start of school holidays.

Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "In July, all types of shopping locations saw reduced footfall year-on-year and that was before the effect of this month's disturbances in England. Fewer people are shopping because households are facing high inflation, low wage growth and uncertainty about future job prospects. But that's slightly offset by hard-up customers spreading their spending over more but less costly shopping trips. For the quarter, the one per cent drop in shopper numbers compared with this time last year is not great but is actually an improvement on the 1.3 per cent fall over the twelve months before that.

"This is the first time we've been able to publish footfall and vacancy figures in this level of detail and it shows stark differences in retail health between some of the UK's nations and regions. Generally, the parts of the UK where the public sector is a bigger proportion of the economy are the ones where customer spending is most likely to be hit by worries about job prospects and cuts, meaning people are shopping less and more retail businesses are failing. By both measures, Northern Ireland and Wales are suffering particularly badly."

Diane Wehrle, Research Director at Springboard, said: "Compared with the past three years, a drop in footfall of one per cent year-on-year is actually very modest and the decline has been steadily softening throughout 2011. There has also been a shift in activity between different types of shopping areas. Traditionally retail parks and malls outperformed the high street due to ease of access and free parking. However, these areas are now experiencing similar challenges to town centres. The modest 0.6 per cent growth in footfall in shopping centres could, in part, be attributed to the early start of summer sales by the multiples which dominate those spaces. In addition, shopping centres experienced the largest annual decline in footfall during the same period in 2010 - so their increase in footfall this year starts from a much lower base. If the trend identified this year continues into 2012 there is a real chance that footfall levels in high streets could stabilise next year."


Source: BRC

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