A total of 16% of all shops and retail outlets in the UK are currently empty, new figures have shown.
This equates to 50,578 retail units, an average of 121 per council in the UK, according to a Freedom of Information request by turnaround consultancy firm Duff & Phelps.
Managing director Philip Duffy said although it’s difficult to get an accurate picture of the health of the high street, the figures “quantify the scale of the challenge facing the UK high street after one of the toughest trading periods since the 2008 recession”.
In 2017, the retail industry contributed £92.8bn to the UK economy, employed 2.8 million people and comprised circa 320,000 businesses – making it one of the most important markets in the UK.
Duffy warned: “The old financial model of the traditional brick and mortar retailer – based on a high street or shopping centre built around them in the post-war era – was centred on regular increases in sales and 25-year leases with upward rent reviews, which has meant high rents and occupancy costs.
“This has blown apart as a result of both the discounters and dramatic uptick in online sales.”