Northerners desert town centres

Shop vacancy rates increased in the majority of town centres across the UK in 2010, with the highest proportion of vacancies reported in the North.


Shop vacancy rates increased in the majority of town centres across the UK in 2010, with the highest proportion of vacancies reported in the North.

Shop vacancy rates increased in the majority of town centres across the UK in 2010, with the highest proportion of vacancies reported in the North.

Some 90 per cent of the 25 large towns with the most vacancies are in the Midlands or the North. Large towns are defined as those with more than 400 shops.

In large towns across the UK, average vacancy rates rose to 16.9 per cent last year, according to research firm the Local Data Company.

Average shop vacancy in medium-sized towns (200 to 399 shops) reached 14.2 per cent, while small centres – with fewer than 200 shops – saw the average vacancy rate increase to 11.5 per cent.

Some centres experienced a particularly poor year, such as Sheffield, where shop vacancies soared to over 20 per cent. In the South, vacancy in Ealing rose from 10 per cent to more than 16 per cent during 2010.

The report warns that the number of retailer failures will increase this year, citing findings by the Centre for Retail Research, which forecasts that some 10,000 shops will close in 2011.

Tom Ironside, British Retail Consortium director of business and regulation, says, ‘The fragile state of the economy is compounding difficulties many of our town centres have been facing for some time. Economic recovery alone will not be enough to ensure they bounce back.

‘Town centres need to be actively planned, managed and invested in,’ he adds.

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