The Local Data Company’s latest shop vacancy report, entitled ‘Too Many Shops’, found that the regional average vacancy rate was 13.8 per cent during the first half of 2012, compared with 12.9 per cent a year ago.
Great Britain’s average shop vacancy rate was 14.6 per cent, with the North West, North East and West Midlands ranked the worst performing regions.
The best performing centres are dominated by southern centres, with Salisbury at 7.7 per cent the best performing overall. Exeter was also ranked among the top ten best performing ‘large centres’ – areas with more than 400 shops.
However, in other areas of the country, vacancy rates topped 30 per cent. Nottingham was ranked the worst large centre overall, while Walsall and Stockport were the second and third worst performers.
“This report clearly shows the key economic and structural issues which are impacting town centres up and down the country,” said Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company.
“These issues still have some way to go before we see wide stability and positive change. Most importantly it shows that at the town level a widening gap in health exists between town centres depending on their location, offer and consumer profile.”
Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, added: “Our towns face complex structural problems which are not going to be solved by tinkering around the edges. In many places, we need to have a complete re-think about how vacant property could be redeveloped into new uses.”
The ‘Too Many Shops’ data was derived from 506 town centres and 145,000 shops that were visited between January to June 2012.