High streets, shopping centres and retail parks recorded a 0.3% rise in vacancy rates in Britain in the year to 31 December 2018, research from the Local Data Company has shown.
The average British vacancy rate rose from 11.2% in 2017 to 11.5% in 2018, driven predominantly “by a decline in retail or service outlets which can be replicated digitally”.
This figure is still much lower than in 2013 (12.6%), the LDC reveals.
The number of retail units split into two, redeveloped for warehousing, office or residential use, or demolished rose by 18.8% year on year.
For the first time in recent years, the total number of occupied units on retail parks declined (1.3%), as ”some of the larger-format stores tackled administrations or CVAs”.
Although it has one of the highest British vacancy rates at 15.1%, the north-west has had the most significant improvement in vacancy rate in the last five years.
The data company did not disclose the rate but said “this shows that the improvement initiatives that have been running across this region are working”.
Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships, said: “LDC’s latest figures prove that, for better or worse, the structural transformation across the retail sector shows no sign of slowing or abating. In 2018 we tracked the GB vacancy rate increasing by 0.3% to 11.5%, driven predominantly by a decline in retail or service outlets which can be replicated digitally.
“Moving forward we predict the overall size of the physical retail and leisure market will continue to shrink as shown by the acceleration of retail stock changing to other uses such as office or residential space in 2018.”