Retailers closing up shop on Britain’s high streets

Retailers closing up shop on Britain’s high streets

10:34 AM, 16th February 2011, About 13 years ago

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Retailers are shutting up shop in Britain’s high streets and many of the doors may never open again for trading.  New data shows town centre business rates for shops are surging, with shopping ‘black spots’ in the north and midlands.

On average 14.5% of retail premises stand empty in the centres of towns and cities across the country – up from 12% at the end of 2009.

The worst places – that are all outside the south – have a vacancy rate of 16.5%, according to the 2010 end of year report by the Local Data Company.

“Whichever way you look at it, fundamental structural changes are taking place in UK retail at the retailer and consumer levels. The very fact that 10 years ago the majority of a multiple retailer’s stores were on a high street but now are migrating from the high street into shopping centres and out-of-town shopping parks begs the question of what will fill the high street of 2020 and beyond?” says the report.

Hundreds of stores are boarded up as big name retailers have disappeared or moved out to out-of-town retail parks.

Chains like Woolworth’s, Borders, Zavvi, The Pier and Threshers have all gone. HMV is closing 60 high street stores and JJB sports is threatening to shut another 95.

Recession, online sales and the growth of retail parks are all blamed for the sorry state of the high street.

The British Retail Consortium wants Chancellor George Osborne to announce measures in next month’s Budget to ease trading conditions for retailers, primarily by reforming the business rates system.

Meanwhile, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)  shows a modest improvement in the commercial property market but agrees with the Local Data Company that the country has pronounced regional and sector differences for occupiers and investors.

In the last three months of 2010, overall tenant demand for commercial property stabilised.

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