6,000 shops vanish in last five years

  • Recruitment
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

The UK has lost around 6,000 high street stores in the last five years as financial pressures continue to boil and business rates rise.

Figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) found that ‘crippling’ business rates and ongoing economic pressures continue to hit businesses hard, causing many to abandon retail spaces.

In the second quarter, the overall vacancy rate stood at 13.9% across the UK, which was 0.1% worse than the first quarter, but better year on year.

More than 1,900 retailers went under in 2022-23, up from 1,243 in 2021-22, with the figures surpassing the pandemic when the enforced closure of high streets forced many to close their doors.

Shopping centre vacancies saw little change at 17.8%, the same level as Q1, but the high street saw an increase of 0.1% to 13.9%. For retail park vacancies, the total number fell to 8.1%, although there was a 0.6% improvement from Q1 2023.

Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: ‘The past five years saw Britain lose 6,000 retail outlets, with crippling business rates and the impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns a key part of decisions to close stores and think twice about new openings.

‘To inject more vibrancy into high streets and town centres, and prevent further store closures, government should review the broken business rates system. Currently, there’s an additional £400m going on retailers’ bills next April, which will put a brake on the vital investment that our towns and cities so desperately need.

‘The government announcement earlier in the week about making changes of use to vacant units easier is welcome but it’s important local councils have a cohesive plan, and don’t leave gap-toothed high streets that are no longer a customer destination and risk becoming inviable. Government should go one step further and freeze rates bills next year.’

Regionally, Greater London, the southeast and the east of England each had the lowest vacancy rates, with London improving over the last quarter due to new flagship stores in the city, alongside a rise in office workers and tourists.

The highest vacancy rates were in the northeast and the Midlands.

Lucy Stainton, commercial director at the Local Data Company (LDC), said: ‘Across all location types, vacancy has reached critical levels, highlighting an ever increasing need to redevelop units to breathe life back into retail destinations.

‘With the continuing trend in mind, we do not foresee any improvements to vacancy rates in future. However, given that the latest rises in vacancy have not been particularly significant, we anticipate that any increases in the near future will be gradual.’

For information on redundancy, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like How much money counts towards redundancy pay calculations from April 2023?

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