More than one in seven stores is already vacant on UK streets, shopping malls and malls, the highest proportion since at least 2015 as the Covid-19 pandemic increased pressure on already weakened retailers .
Fashion stores have been particularly affected, with a major shift to online shopping during the pandemic and the lack of parties, events and nights to dress up.
Shopping malls, which usually house more clothing stores, are now looking for tenants for a fifth of their units, according to research by the Local Data Company and the British Retail Consortium.
The change in shopping habits, along with a general shift in spending towards digital entertainment, mobile phones and experiences, has led to an unprecedented failure in recent months. The department stores Debenhams and the Arcadia Group, owner of Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Burton, have withdrawn from Main Street and become brands exclusively online after being auctioned off to new owners.
The North East of England had the highest proportion of empty shops, with just over a fifth, and has experienced the largest increase over last summer, as the area has suffered high Covid rates and low revenues available. Greater London had the best performance, despite an immersion in tourists and travelers visiting the capital, with vacancy rates exceeding half the Northeast rate.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, reiterated her call on the government to reject property-based taxes levied on companies that make it difficult for retailers with physical stores relative to their fast-growing online rivals.
The government has said it will publish a review of trade rates this autumn after giving retailers a tax holiday throughout the pandemic. The tax cut began disconnecting last month and will end for all businesses in March.
Dickinson said: “The vacancy rate could rise further now that the Covid-19 holiday is over. The government must ensure that the ongoing review of trade rates leads to the reform of this failed system, meeting the “Our commitment to permanently reducing the cost burden to sustainable levels. The longer the current system persists, the more job losses and empty shops we will see, harming staff, customers and communities across the country.”
Lucy Stainton, director of Local Data Company, said that with vacancy rates at the highest levels since the company began its survey in 2015, homeowners should think of different ways to use empty stores as there are no there were enough new retailers to cover the space.
But he said the figures indicated a trend of improvement as the increase in vacancy rates had halved compared to the same period in 2020.
“After a first attack of [restructures], closures due to changes in consumer behavior and cost-cutting exercises, retailers are now beginning to dust off with cautious optimism, closely monitoring the rapid change in infection rates and the pace at which they are occurring. vaccinations, two measures that could seriously derail recovery efforts if they did not go in the right direction. “