While average shop vacancy rates are improving, regional divisions are starker than ever, new figures from The Local Data Company (LDC) have revealed.

National shop vacancy rates continued to fall in 2014 reaching 13.3% by December - well down from their peak of 14.6% in February 2012, the ‘Mind The Gap’ report shows.

However, the divide between the North and South is more apparent than ever.

The North East, North West, and West Midlands all have shop vacancy rates double that of London. On average one in 10 shops lie empty in the South while in the North the figure is double at one in five.

The highest vacancy towns are all in the West Midlands and the North while the lowest vacancy towns are all in Greater London or the South East, with the exception of Eastgate in Lincoln.

Nationally, Wales has the highest national vacancy rate at 14.8% - 3% more than that of England and Scotland which are almost neck and neck at 11.7% and 11.9% respectively.

LDC director Matthew Hopkinson said the market was likely to change “even more rapidly in 2015” with some places seeing rental increases and others continuing to fall following the start of the business rates revaluation in April.