In the first three months of the year, the number of empty shops in town centers and shopping malls fell again, but still significantly more than it was before the epidemic.
According to data compiled by the British Retail Consortium and local data companies, at the time of the third lockdown early last year, 14.5 per cent of UK stores were empty. According to their latest report, the number dropped to 14.4 percent by the end of 2021 and again to 14.1 percent in the first quarter of this year. Closures include shops on high streets, shopping centers and retail parks.
This is the first time since the spring of 2016 that the overall vacancy rate has declined in a drawn quarter, and the biggest quarterly decline since consortium began collecting data in 2015.
However, there are still many more empty stores before the coronavirus outbreak began, when the emptiness rate stood at about 12 percent.
Helen Dickinson, chief consortium of the consortium, said the economy had completely restarted, more city workers were back in office and more tourists were out on the streets. The BRC noted that there was “uncertainty ahead” due to Ukraine’s rising cost of living and the war, which has contributed to lowering consumer confidence at the lowest level since the global financial crisis in 2008.
The vacancy rate has improved in all types of retail positions in the first quarter. Shopping centers have always had a larger proportion of empty stores than elsewhere, a trend exacerbated by the epidemic. Just two years ago, about 14 per cent of UK mall retail units were empty, with 19 per cent of them now. However, it dropped from 19.1 percent in December and 19.4 percent last summer
The vacancy rate on highways fell to 14.1 percent from 14.5 percent in the second quarter of last year. Retail parks remain the most popular destination for retailers, with an average vacancy rate of 10.6 percent, down from 11.5 percent a year earlier.
The Northeast has the biggest drop in vacancy rates, but at 18.8 percent it still has the highest proportion of boarded-up stores in the country. In London, the vacancy rate rose from 11 per cent to 11.1 per cent, although it remained in the region of the smallest proportion of shuttered shops.