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Number of empty shops falls to five-year low

The UK shop vacancy rate fell to 12.9% in September, which is the lowest level since April 2010, as consumer confidence improves.

New figures from The Local Data Company showed the town vacancy rate was 0.1% lower than in August this year, with Wales and the West Midlands leading the way.  

The vacancy rate at shopping centres fell by 0.2% on the previous month to 14.6%, with the biggest falls in the East of England and the Northwest, while vacancies at retail parks fell by 0.1%, driven by Greater London and the Northeast.

Reasons for the improving situation are varied, but The Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson said: “Ultimately, consumers have more money in their pockets as a result of wages being higher than inflation. Employment levels are improving and there is greater focus on the living wage as well as zero-hours contracts.

“This, combined with all-time low oil prices and interest rates, makes for an improving retail economy, but not everywhere as the recent steelworks closure in the Northeast shows.”

@Tara_Hounslea

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