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Shop vacancy rate at lowest level since 2009 – Josh

25 May 2016 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal

Britain’s shop vacancy dropped to 12.4 per cent in April – the lowest since December 2009, according to the Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Association (bira).

This figure is down -0.6 per cent from April last year. The report revealed that although more than 4,600 shops opened in 2015, more than 5,100 closed; just under 500 units fell empty in 2015, on top of the thousands of others over the past five years.

This change was driven by a decrease in the number of units becoming vacant (down 16 per cent from April 2015) along with an above average number of units being removed from the overall stock (+76 per cent, when compared with April 2015).

Vacant property management expert Orbis has said that more shops closing than opening for the fifth year running is a serious concern for property managers.

Guy Other, CEO at Orbis, said: “While the decrease in the number of shops closing must be seen as a positive, the hundreds of empty units created this year alone will need to be addressed.”

Other added: “Vacant units that are not properly secured or managed can become an eyesore in the community, encourage vandalism and other crime, and become unfit for purpose, making them too costly to reopen.”

The report has highlighted that already this year has seen a significant number of shop closures with more being announced.

Orbis says while it is difficult to say what this means for the future of many retailers, “property managers will need to seriously consider the future of their estates”.

The organisation also warned that if more and more properties are going to become void in the next few years, “a security and management solution will need to be put in place to ensure the long term prosperity of high street units”.

The LDC retail market trends report summary of 2015 also revealed a number of positives from the data. The number of independent retailers has continued to increase, although at a slower rate than the previous year, and the overall rate of retail closures has dropped by over 50 per cent from 2014. 

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