Shop vacancy rates are improving for commercial property investors, according to a new survey.
The rate has fallen slowly but steadily over the past three years, says the Local Data Company.
The firm says year-on-year the vacancy rate for April 2014 has slipped from an average 14.1% to 13.5%.
The figures are drawn from thousands of retail premises across 2,700 towns and cities
Researchers visit retail parks and shopping centres to record whether shops are vacant, trading or demolished to make sure the figures are accurate and up-to-date.
The vacancy rate is also split between retail and leisure premises. The figures for April 2014 compared with April 2013 are:
- All (Retail & Leisure) vacancy rate – 11.9% down from 12.5% in April 2013
- Shop (Retail) vacancy rate – 13.5% from14.1% 12 months ago
- Leisure vacancy rate – 7.6% slightly below 7.5% a year ago
Matthew Hopkinson, director at The Local Data Company said: “Continuing vacancy rate improvement is encouraging and reflects increasing consumer confidence, although recent footfall numbers are falling, perhaps due to a more focussed shopping.
“Recent announcements around mergers of two large retailers and significant changes happening within retail banking closing branches may mean that this rate will become less stable going forward.”
The research also found owners were finding alternative uses for empty retail units.
Across Britain, the study recorded 51,491 vacant units – equivalent top 10 empty Leeds city centres.
Market research firm Experian counts footfall in shopping centres and retail parks.
The firm’s latest index shows 2.2% less customers went shopping in the week ending April 28, 2014, compared with same week last year– with the biggest fall in retail parks, which saw a 6.7% drop.
The firm suggests warm weather saw people choosing to visit tourist spots rather than go shopping over the recent bank holidays.
Go to the Experian web site for more information about footfall at shopping centres.