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Vacancy rates stabilise in 2011

Vacancy rates in town centres across Great Britain stabilised during the first half of 2011 with the vacancy rate remaining at 14.5% despite Northern towns having a greater number of vacant shops than the South.

The report from the Local Data Company titled ‘The Good, The Bad and The (very) Ugly’ reviewed shop vacancy figures over 1,000 retail centres. It found there is a distinct regional divide in vacancy rates and the gap between the best and worst performing towns has widened.

A regional divide sways positively towards the South with all southern regions seeing an average vacancy at or below 11%. The Midlands and the North range from just under 13% in the East Midlands to 16% in the North West.

The top ten worst-performing large centres are in the West Midlands and the North while seven out of the top ten best large centres are in the South. The best performers for the smaller centres were again mainly in London and the South East.

Medium sized retail centres fare better than larger ones with medium schemes vacancy rates averaging 14% compared to 17% in their larger counterparts.

Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company said: “This report shows how fragile the British High Street is in parts of the country. The pressures it faces are increasing and therefore one needs to be realistic in one’s approach to each and everyone of these towns if they are all to have a future.

“The stark reality is that Great Britain has too many shops in the wrong locations and of the wrong size. The diversity of shop vacancy rates is clear evidence that a local approach is required that ties in with consumer needs and the realities of modern retailing. The market still has significant corrections ahead and the impact of these will vary significantly according to location.”

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