skip to main content
Find Insight DIY on
* * *


BRC & LDC: Shop Vacancies Increase As Retail Crisis Deepens

Baloncici - retail-to-let-istock1051698118.jpg
  • In the fourth quarter of 2020, the overall GB vacancy rate increased to 13.7%, from 13.2% in Q3. It was 1.6 percentage points higher than the same point in 2019. This was the tenth consecutive quarter of increasing vacancy rates, from Q2 2018.
  • All locations saw an increase in vacancies in Q4, with Shopping Centre vacancies increasing to 17.1% from Q3’s 16.3%.
  • On the High Street, vacancies increased to 13.7% in Q4 – remaining in line with the overall rate. This was up from 13.3% in Q3.
  • Retail Park vacancies increased slightly to 10.0% in Q4 2020, up from 9.2% in Q3. However, it remains the location with by far the lowest rate.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:
“With the country in and out of lockdown, the forced closures of thousands of shops, and consumers reluctant to visit town and city centres, it is unsurprising that the number of shuttered stores continues to rise. Over the past two years, one in every 50 outlets has permanently closed, and this number will only go up. The big increase in vacancy rates during the crucial golden retail quarter, when demand is usually high, serves as a stark reminder of the pandemic’s impact. Social restrictions and their knock on effect on consumer appetite for fashion, has meant that shopping centres are still faring the worst due to their high proportion of clothing outlets. What’s more, due to economic uncertainty, many retailers have paused their plans for future investment in new stores.

“If Government wants to avoid unnecessary shop closures and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, it must urgently extend the business rates relief beyond April, providing additional targeted financial support to the hardest hit retailers, and extend the moratorium of aggressive debt enforcement. Without these interventions, not only will retail firms go under, but the vibrancy of our town centres and local communities across the country will be lost.”

Lucy Stainton, Head of Retail and Strategic Partnerships, Local Data Company, said:
“The latest LDC vacancy figures clearly show the predicted acceleration in units closing, the catalyst of which being the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this number only reflects the very immediate impact of the pandemic on the retail market. Hundreds of thousands of stores have been struck by changing restrictions and many of these remained temporarily closed in the intervening periods between lockdowns. Therefore these businesses are not reflected in the permanent vacancy figures.  With each round of restrictions, these ‘frozen’ units are less likely to reopen and so we’re predicting the compound effect of each lockdown being visible in later figures. 

"Added to this, with recent announcements from the likes of Debenhams and Arcadia, the size of the stores coming onto the market will present a real challenge given the likely lack of demand for larger high street units. With a limited number of new store openings, structural solutions will need to be found to prevent these vacant units lying empty for 2,3,4 years or more. Looking further out, the increase in availability of space will provide opportunities for new businesses, however we must prepare ourselves for the picture to get worse before it gets better.”

Source : BRC and LDC

Image : Baloncici / iStock 1051698118

For all the very latest news and intelligence on the UK's largest home improvement and garden retailers, sign up for the Insight DIY weekly newsletter.

01 February 2021

Related News

view more UK DIY News

Insight provides a host of information I need on many of our company’s largest customers. I use this information regularly with my team, both at a local level as well as with our other international operations. It’s extremely useful when sharing market intelligence information with our corporate office.

Paul Boyce - European CEO, QEP Ltd.

Don't miss out on all the latest, breaking news from the DIY industry