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Shop vacancies on the rise

Shop vacancies rose in the three months to January 31, with more than one in ten shops on the high street lying empty.

10.7% of shops were vacant, an increase on the 10.3% recorded in the previous three-month period, according to property agent Cushman & Wakefield’s Retail Availability report.

The most recent figure was boosted by temporary lettings over the festive period.

Vacancy as a result of administrations fell by 0.3% despite chains such as Ethel Austin hitting the buffers, as well as smaller ones including jewellery chain Diamonds & Pearls.

Central London has one of the lowest levels of shop vacancies, with 7.9% of stores lying empty.

The Midlands has seen the highest increase in shop vacancies, rising to 12.1% - a 1.7% increase on the previous period.

The report found that there is a “real divergence” between the key retail areas and other more secondary locations, due to a “flight to quality and dominance”.

Cushman & Wakefield head of central London retail Peter Mace said: “The high number of tourists that continue to visit London to capitalise on the weak pound have helped to reinforce central London’s resilience.

“Prime high profile streets remain much in demand with Regent Street, for example, currently 100% full and only 1.7% vacancy on Old and New Bond Street. 

“There are many international and luxury/high end brands looking for representation on these streets but they remain relatively immune to the threat of significant vacancies.”

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