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Largest fall in vacant shops since 2006

Published:  23 September, 2014

The level of empty shops in 15 key locations across the UK has registered its largest quarterly fall since 2006 according to Colliers International’s National Retail Barometer

The Colliers International’s latest National Retail Barometer for Q3 2014 shows that the average void rate by number of units is now 13 per cent. And 12 out of the 15 locations that the research tracks experienced a fall in the vacancy rate.

In comparison to the situation six months ago, the sample centres have collectively registered a decrease in vacant space of more than 300,000 sq ft and total vacancy across the 15 locations now stands at 1.8m sq ft.

The absorption of space has not been confined to London and the South East where the retail market has proved generally more resilient. Locations such as Liverpool, Cardiff, Northampton and Worcester also saw falls in the vacancy rate. Liverpool saw one of the strongest uplifts in demand as 20 units totalling more than 100,000 sq ft were let in Q3.

However, despite falling void rates, there has been little movement in the average length of time that shops sit empty. On average, 43 per cent currently remain vacant for more than a year.

Mark Phillipson, head of retail at Colliers International, said: “The trend is encouraging and reflects the growing demand for space – particularly at the prime end of the market. However, it is highly unlikely that there will be a return to the general occupancy level that prevailed pre-recession.

“The growth of online shopping will continue to influence the demand for physical stores and retailers are now more focused on building smaller networks of outlets that primarily target the strongest high streets, shopping centres and out-of-town parks.”