Supermarket troubles are sparking a conundrum for commercial investors as the number of empty shops looks set to increase.
Research shows that new stores opened by supermarket giants were balancing out the number of smaller retailers shutting up.
But recent store closures announced by Tesco and Morrisons coupled with a block on new developments could herald a shift in the market, shows the latest study by retail specialist the Local Data Company.
The firm keeps a detailed watching brief on shopping centres and retail parks.
The latest figures show Britain’s town centres have around 50,000 empty shops.
But the spread is not equal – the rate is one in 10 vacant premises in the North, Wales and the West Midlands, while in London, the statistic drops to one in five.
“Polarisation between the North and the South is as wide as ever, with London’s vacancy rate less than half that of the northern regions,” said director Matthew Hopkinson.
“All the top 10 highest vacancy towns in the country are in the North, West Midlands or Wales. While we have seen an improvement from the peak in 2012 when these towns had one in three shops empty, these towns all have vacancy rates above 25% which is still one in four shops lying empty and no sign of improvement.
“Not only is the level of vacancy an issue, but of more significance in my view is the persistence of that vacancy. For example in the largest towns with more than 400 shops with the highest vacancy rate, 70% of those vacant units have remained empty for more than a year.
“Such analysis at town, shopping centre and retail park level gives the most realistic view about the oversupply of retail and leisure premises up and down the country. A fifth of these have been vacant for more than three years, which implies that 9,908 are never going to be re-occupied.”
50,000 Shops Standing Empty Across Britain – http://t.co/RNLhYxOilK
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) February 4, 2015