Are our vacant shops filling up?

LDC publishes today its latest national vacancy rates from May 2014. The simple answer is that the last six months have seen a progressive improvement in the shop vacancy rate for Great Britain. This is significant, as we have not seen such a prolonged period of consistent reduction in the number of empty shops in our town centres.

The shop vacancy rate in May reached its to its lowest level since June 2010. The shop vacancy rate decreased by a further 0.1% to 13.4%. This is a marked improvement from a year ago when the rate was 14.1%.

The picture remains stable across both retail and leisure uses which is reflected in the overall vacancy rate coming down to 11.9% in May from 12.0% in April.

All (Retail & Leisure) vacancy rate – 11.9% (*12.4%)

Shop (Retail) vacancy rate – 13.4% (*14.1%)

Leisure vacancy rate – 7.6% (*7.4%)

(*May 13 figure)

The improving vacancy rate continues to show that empty shops are being reoccupied up and down the country. Within town centres alone this equates to over 200 new businesses a month. Of significance is the leisure vacancy rate, which has increased marginally and reflects what is an increasingly competitive market as reflected by the Tragus announcement of yesterday.

The improving vacancy rate reflects a more positive economic outlook for consumers in terms of price deflation, wage increases and continued interest rates at al all time low. These factors are highly volatile so it would be wrong to call the market on vacancy rates as much can change in a very short space of time as history shows!

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