In its latest shop vacancy report, More Clicks, Less Bricks, the LDC analysed more than 275,000 retails and leisure premises across nearly 2,000 retail centres to find that the shop vacancy rate in Britain reduced from 14.3 per cent to 14.2 per cent in 2012.
At 15.6 per cent, shopping centres were revealed to have the highest number of vacancies. In contrast, the lowest number of vacancies, at 8.8 per cent, were found in retail parks.
Cambridge was revealed to have the lowest number of vacancies (6 per cent) of retail centres with more than 400 shops, while, at 28.3 per cent, Stockport was revealed to have the most.
“Despite an improving situation for all centres, it is significant that the top 25 worst performers are dominated by centres in the midlands and north, the exception being Swansea at number six with a vacancy rate of 25.3 per cent,” the report stated.
With an 11.1 per cent decrease in shop vacancies in 2012, Lee Green was revealed as the best performing centre during 2012. Upper Edmonton was shown to be the worst, with a 9.9 per cent increase in shop vacancies recorded.
In regard to areas, the West Midlands saw the largest rise in vacancy rate in 2012, from 17.7 per cent to 18.5 per cent.
Using its key centres data for England, LDC found that over the past three-years the North West produced the seven worst performing centres and that only seven of the twenty worst performing centres were outside the midlands and the north.
On a positive note, some of the worst performing centres, such as Margate, saw a significant drop in vacancy during the second half of the year.
Director at the LDC Matthew Hopkinson commented: “The picture is one of increasing polarisation of performance between town centres, shopping centres and retail parks in every part of the country. Online is driving growth for a majority of retailers, so 2013 is all about the supporting role that shops will have as ‘customer experience’ centres and showrooms as much as transactions through their tills. Inevitably this means fewer shops will be required as our net closures data shows, and as such one can expect this divergence in performance to grow. Secondary shopping centres are coming to the fore in this respect.
“The big unknown is how technology will continue to channel and mould consumer spending habits and to what effect as bricks as clicks take the lead role? The pressure between online and rising costs of running a shop on the high street due to rents, rates and parking charges is likely to become an increasingly hot topic.”