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National vacancy rate stable at 14%

Published:  08 September, 2011

Latest research by The Local Data Company (LDC) shows that the national vacancy rate is 14 per cent, with a spread of performance across the country ranging from 3- to 36 per cent. The number of void units has increased in 90 per cent of town centres.

The South is faring better than the North, with secondary and medium town centres suffering the worst, with Rotherham one of the worst performing towns.

Vacancy rates in large town and city centres are suffering more than expected, with LDC’s business development manager Matthew Hopkinson describing “holes on the fringes” in places like Birmingham.

Small town centres that are geographically remote are likely to survive better as fuel and train tickets dissuade shoppers from going out-of-town. Shopping centres are continuing to perform well in terms of footfall.

Planning, Localism, interest rates, commodity and utility costs, multi-channel sales growth and anchor ‘drawdowns’ will all be contributing factors going forward, according to Hopkinson, who predicted “a lot more pain ahead”.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Liz Peace, CEO at the British Property Federation spoke of Mary Portas and her upcoming report on the British high street.

“It’s pretty clear what needs to happen,” she said. “There needs to be a fundamental structural and social change. People are voting with their feet in deciding where to shop and there needs to be an alternative offer. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle and tell people not to go out-of-town. You need to create a different reason for people to stay local.”