No longer a nation of shopkeepers

A regional divide in shop vacancy levels has exposed the weak state of retail markets in the north.

The Local Data Company’s latest shop vacancy rates, based on a survey of more than 149,000 shop premises, finds just three southern cities in the top 25 list of highest vacancies nationwide (Watford, Bristol and Reading).

Top of the table is Blackpool with a 28 per cent vacancy rate, whereas the average vacancy rate in London is around 10 per cent.

The national average vacancy rose at the end of 2009 from 12 per cent to 13 per cent in August 2010.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, says: ‘It is encouraging to see high streets recovering in the south, but that glimmer of positive news does not hide the fact that retail markets elsewhere are struggling, and that consumer confidence is still fragile.’

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