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Shop vacancy rates continue to fall

Shop vacancy rates in the UK have fallen for the third consecutive month, ending the year at 14.2%.

Figures for December 2012 were slightly down on the same time last year when vacancy levels were at 14.3%. The latest figures have been seen as a turning point as vacancy had been getting worse for the past three years.

Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said: “Online is driving growth for a majority of retailers and so 2013 is all about that supporting role that shops will have as ‘customer experience’ centres and showrooms as much as transactions through their tills.

“The big unknown is how technology will continue to channel and mould consumer spending habits and to what effect as bricks and clicks take the lead role? The pressure between online and rising costs of running a shop on the high street to rents, rates and parking charges is likely to become an increasingly hot topic.”

The latest survey shows that all regions saw a slight rise in vacancies except Yorkshire and the Humber, London and the East Midlands. Meanwhile, Wales was the worst performing country at 18%.

The country’s shopping centres suffered the most with a vacancy rate of 15.6% following town centres at 14.2% and retail parks at 8.8%

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