High street closures rocket

Boarded-up shops have tripled over the last year, says a report by The Local Data Company (LDC).

The research firm found that vacancy rates increased from around four per cent in the middle of 2008 to nearly 12 per cent at the end of June this year. This amounts to 12,000 store closures.

According to the report, northern England and the Midlands have generally fared worst, with Derby, Liverpool and Leeds all showing a retail vacancy rate of over 20 per cent.

Southern regions seem to be weathering the climate better, with only Croydon and Exeter featured among the ten worst town centres with vacancy rates of around 15 per cent. Vacancy rates in central London were nearly 13 per cent.

Overall, the report suggest that smaller towns appear to be faring slightly better. Matthew Hopkinson, business development director at the Local Data Company, says: ‘They may be doing better because they tend to be more affluent and further away from out of town shopping centres, which pull people away from the high street.’

Hopkins adds that the trend in shop closures increasing shows no sign of abating.

The Retail Think Tank has claimed that the closure of high street shops is a long-term structural issue, rather than a short-term effect of the recession.