Please Note: This Article is 6 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

The number of empty shops on high streets and shopping centre is slowly falling, according to the latest research.

Around one in seven shops were standing empty in May 2014, according to figures issued by the Local Data Company.

But the rate is improving month by month.

The figure dropped from 13.5% to 13.4% in May and was standing at 14.1% a year ago.

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Drilling down into the figures shows more retail premises (13.4%) are empty than leisure properties (7.6%).

Director Matthew Hopkinson said: “As the rate drops, we can see more shops are opening acro9ss the country. The falling rate represents around 200 new shops opening each month.”

Meanwhile, separate research by Network Rail suggests shoppers are flocking to stations – but to buy food and goods, not to catch trains.

The survey showed around half of people visiting stations were there to shop rather than travel.

In the first three months of this year, station retailers clocked up £150 million in sales – up 5.6% on the same period last year.

Year-on-year sales were up 6.1%, while those in the high street nudged up a more modest 0.75%.

Network Rail explained station redevelopments were leading to soaring sales for retailers.

Major works at Manchester’s Piccadilly Station have seen sales rise by 8%, while new works at London’s Cannon Street Station, below The Shard, the capital’s tallest building, have seen sales rocket by a fifth.

The main winners were food brands, like Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, with sales rising by 22%.

Other popular stores were selling cards and stationery, with sales up 15%, while pubs and bars saw a 12.6% increase in cash over the counters.

The research reckoned 10 million people visited Birmingham New Street without catching a train; 6 million went to shop at Edinburgh Waverley and 5.6 million at Manchester Piccadilly.

Hamish Kiernan, Network Rail’s commercial director of retail, said: “These are great results for our retailers and we are delighted that our stations are continuing to give them an edge over the high street.”

Please Note: This Article is 6 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.
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