Britain’s high streets and shopping centres are hosting fewer boarded up shops, says a new report.
More shops are opening with vacancy rates dropping from 14.6% in February 2012 to 13.4% in May – the lowest rate since June 2010.
However, research by The Local Data Company covering the first half of 2014 reveals shops are opening in the south at triple the rate as in the north.
According to the firm, vacancy rates have improved by 9% in the south, compared to just 3% in the midlands and north.
The worst performing large shopping centres – rated as having more than 400 shops – are Hartlepool, Stockport and Walsall.
The best performers are all in the south – Cambridge, Richmond (West London) and Walthamstow (East London).
The report highlights more than 50,000 shops are empty across Britain, while around 3,000 new shops opened in the first six months of 2014.
Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said: “The first half of 2014 has shown a positive improvement in vacancy rates across the country both by geography and location type. What is very clear, however, is that this positive trend is not universal and hides significant variances. The fact that the North West’s vacancy rate is more than double that of London is one clear example of polarisation.
“The persistency of vacancy is increasingly significant as analysis shows that over 100 locations with vacant units which have stood empty for more than three years. This equates to over 1,600 units.
“What is encouraging in this report is that High Streets are fighting back as are shopping centres, but and it is a big but, consumer confidence remains fragile and the out of town and mega mall offer continues to strengthen as they become destinations and often destinations of choice.”