The number of independent shops on the high street increased last year as the UK’s vacancy rate fell to its lowest level since 2010, according to the Local Data Company.
The number of shops grew towards the end of the year following a summer slump in which openings and closures fell after the spring, the LDC Dynamic Location Intelligence Bulletin has revealed.
However, multiple outlets continued to withdraw from high streets, with numbers falling throughout 2016. The LDC recorded an average nett loss of 1.5 multiple stores in each of the 650 towns sampled.
Independents continued to generate openings and closings at three times the rate of their national competitors and arrived at the year end with more shops in operation than at the preceding New Year’s Day.
At 12.2% in December, the UK’s retail vacancy rate fell to its lowest rate since peaking in 2010.
Matthew Hopkinson, LDC director, said: “There is a great deal of life in the high street and our new bulletin brings to light just how lively our retail locations are. There is also a great deal of its opposite, retail death. More than one in ten shop units changed occupant last year.
“Paradoxically, numbers of shops grew as winter drew on and the vacancy rate finally began to fall again – despite the fact that overall levels of activity dropped as the year headed towards its end. Our new report clearly demonstrates that it is the balance of openings and closures that delivers growth or decline – and that plays a key role in driving vacancy rates.”