Retail vacancy rate reaches record UK high

Over one-in-ten stores are now standing empty on UK High Streets, the British Retail Consortium has claimed.

The organisation’s latest survey pegs national vacancy rates at 11.3 per cent. That’s up 0.4 per cent month-on-month and is the highest rate since the BRC started compiling the data in July 2011.

Video games have played a part in this, of course, with GAME shutting around 300 of its UK stores. Other troubled retailers include Clinton Cards, JJB Sports and Peacocks – and the struggling Comet recently announced the closure of 41 stores as it fights for life.

The number is likely to be alleviated this month and next as seasonal temporary stores open their doors to make the most of the festive rush.

"This new high in empty shop numbers really sets alarm bells ringing,” BRC director general Stephen Robertson told The Guardian. It confirms the financial challenges for both customers and retailers are far from over.

Next year’s threatened business rates increase [of 2.6 per cent in April] can only make matters worse. If the government wants to breathe life back into our town centres and ensure the retail industry can play its full role in job creation, it needs to freeze rates in 2013."

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