A stark warning has been issued about the future of town centre vacancy rates despite a decrease in the number of stores that are currently empty.
According to figures from the Local Data Company (LDC), vacancy rates have decreased for the third month in a row. In December 2012, 14.25% of shops in UK town centres were empty, down from the previous month’s rate of 14.31%.
Despite this continued decline, LDC director Matthew Hopkinson warned of future store closures. “This further decrease reflects the seasonal nature of retailing and the increase in the number of pop-up shops across the country,” he said. “In light of recent administrations and the number of distressed retailers being quoted I fear that we will see a rise in the number of vacant shops in 2013. There is the potential for a doubling of closures from what we have seen in 2012.”
Hopkinson did praise those who have attempted make use of empty premises in their area. “Aside from the numbers it is interesting to increasingly come across more and more innovative ideas as to how we can tackle vacant units from independents combining forces under one roof to the use of derelict shopping centres for war gaming or even being chased by zombies.”