British shop vacancy rates have shown improvement at the end of 2013, dropping 4.8% from its peak to last December, according to new research. the Local Data Company (LDC).
The ‘Divide and Rule’ report from the Local Data Company (LDC) examined vacancy rates by analysing more than 2,100 town centres, shopping centres and retail parks.
From a peak of 14.6% in February 2012, the report demonstrated the decrease in vacancy rates to 13.9% in December 2013; reaching below 14% for the first time since July 2010.
The report found a clear regional divide in the UK, with a combined average of 17% across the North, almost 5% higher than the national all vacancy average of 12.2%.
The best performing regions, with fewer vacancies, were the South West (-0.60%), East Midlands (-0.58%), London (-0.44%), West Midlands (-0.31%), Yorkshire & the Humber (-0.12%) and the South East (-0.11%).
However, the North East (+0.35%), North West (+0.20) and the East of England (+0.04%) have all seen an increase in vacancy rates during 2013.
Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said: “2013 was a pivotal year for our town centres. It showed stabilisation of vacancy rates at a national level and saw the lowest vacancy rate recorded since mid-2010.
“Along with other key indicators such as house prices, GDP and unemployment you would not be wrong to identify 2013 as the year that the UK’s economic recovery began.
“Nationally this may be the case but what is clear from LDC’s latest report on vacancy rates, ‘Divide and Rule’, is that there is a significant and growing divide between the north of the country and the south.
“It is clear that Great Britain has too many shops, over 50,000 lie empty, and that technology will drive further consolidation. The speed of change is quickening and it is therefore more important than ever before to know which locations are thriving, surviving or dying.”