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Shop vacancy rates reach record high

Vacancy rates were the worst on record last month, rising to a UK average of 11.3% in October, as footfall weakened on the high street.

Footfall in the three months to October was 0.4% lower than the same time last year according to theBritish Retail Consortium-Springboard monitor. The high street saw the largest drop with a 0.9% fall in the quarter although footfall in out-of-town and shopping centre locations rose 0.2% and 0.1% respectively.

As a result, vacany rates rose once again to 11.3%, the highest figure since the monitor began in July 2011.

Northern Ireland had the highest vacancy rate at 20% closely followed by Wales at 15.1% and then the North and Yorkshire at 14.6%.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “This new high in empty shop numbers really sets alarm bells ringing. It’s the worst vacancy rate since the survey began in July 2011 and confirms that financial challenges for both customers and retailers are far from over.”

“It’s a little more cheering to see footfall suffering less than the previous quarter but shopper numbers were still no better than a year ago,” Robertson said, noting an improvement on the second quarter’s figures, which showed a 3.3% drop.

“September’s cold snap drew the crowds stocking up on warmer clothing.  But, while the Olympics appears to have brought people out onto high streets, that didn’t translate into a surge in spending,” he added.

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