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High street vacancy rate highlighting need for rents and rates support

empty shop retail high street

The overall GB vacancy rate increased from 12.2% in Q1 to 12.4% in Q2.

All locations saw an increase in vacancies in Q2, with shopping centre vacancies increasing to 14.3% from Q1’s 14.1%.

On the high street, vacancies increased to 12.4% in Q2 – remaining in line with the overall rate. This was up from 12.3% in Q1.

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Retail Park vacancies increased slightly to 8.3% in Q2 2020, up from 8.2% in Q1.

The British Retail Consortium said the figures highlight the need for rents and rates support.

Helen Dickinson OBE, the BRC’s chief exec, said: “The second quarter rise in the vacancy rate across retail sites was modest, as Government support allowed many locations to survive lockdown. However, the full effects of the pandemic are yet to be seen, with Government slowly withdrawing the relief that substantially reduced costs over the last period.

“How many stores are left standing will depend on how demand recovers going forward and the recent rise in vacancy rates is just the beginning. Retail Parks continued to fare better than High Streets and Shopping Centres due to their extra space, on-site parking, and broader mix of food and non-food retailers, but this was still not enough to prevent a slight increase in vacancy rate.”

She added: “Covid has accelerated many of the changes in retailing already underway. Online continues to grow and retail stores should also have a vital role in our communities, supporting jobs and other businesses which rely on retail footfall.”

Concluding: “The shuttering of too many shops on our high streets will threaten the vibrancy of town centres, and damage local economies. With many months of rent having built up during lockdown, the Government must ensure local stores are not shouldered with unpayable debts.

“Without action, there will be unprecedented retail and business failures, job losses and knock on consequences for highly geared property owners.”

Tags : business rateshigh street
Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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