Vacancy rates across UK shopping centres dropped for the third consecutive quarter at the end of last year, according to the latest figures.
Data from the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) has revealed a 0.8% fall in empty units year-on-year for the final quarter of 2015.
It follows a decline of 0.8% in Q3 and a 1.4% drop in Q2.
The number of multiple retailers in shopping centres increased by 1.5% while there was a 1.5% fall in independents.
There was a 0.9% decline in vacancy rates in England and a 1.1% fall in Scotland. Meanwhile, there was no change in the vacancy rates recorded for Welsh shopping centres.
Regionally, shopping centres in Yorkshire and The Humber and West Midlands saw the largest drops in vacancies, dropping 1.6% and 1.5% respectively.
Edward Cooke, director of policy and public affairs at the BCSC said the decline is expected to continue as international retailers expand in the UK.
“Declining vacancy rates over three consecutive quarters in 2015 indicates a longer term trend of strong consumer confidence which we predict will continue into 2016,” he said.
“Our research also shows increasing competition for space coming from multiple chains and international retailers which are starting to grow at a faster rate than independents.
“The drop in the overall number of units across UK shopping centres is evidence of the retail property industry adapting to the changing needs of occupiers. By proactive asset management and merging units, landlords are able to provide the larger spaces required by the multiple chains and attract big brands to shopping centres.”
“The latest LDC/BCSC shopping centre index numbers show a positive outlook for shopping centres in one of the most important quarters for retailers in the year,” Matthew Hopkinson, director of The Local Data Company, said.
The number of quality shopping centres has grown as a result of investment and strong retailer demand off the back of low inflation and improving consumer confidence.