Empty high street shops reach highest level for more than six years

According to the new figures, the number of empty high street shops has risen to the highest level for more than six years following a wave of store closures as a result of the pandemic.

The Data from retail analysis firm, Springboard covers sites that have ceased trading, rather than those that are yet to reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown.

The figures show that 10.8 per cent of shops were left empty during July, up from 9.8 in January this year.

Well-known brands such as Oasis Warehouse and Cath Kidston have already disappeared from the high street with other larger retailers such as John Lewis and Boots also closing outlets.

The number of vacancies increased in most regions, with the greatest increase coming in Greater London, where empty stores were up by two-thirds in January.

The retail sector has been the worst hit by the impact of the coronavirus. However, many businesses on Britain’s high streets were already struggling with challenges such as high business rates and online competition even before the pandemic struck.

The Springboard report also looked at footfall in shopping locations. It found that it was 30.8 per cent lower in August 2020 compared to the same month during 2019.

There were wide variations though depending on the type of locations, with out-of-town retail parks only 11.1 per cent down but high streets behind by 38.3 per cent and shopping centres by 33.9 per cent.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard said: “The reality of the new normal has already started to bite. These statistics bring into sharp focus the difficulties faced by large cities in attracting customers back and the impact of this on our bricks and mortar retail landscape.”