Five high street shops closed every day in 2016 but final quarter shows improvement

A new LDC report has revealed that an estimated 1,650 shops were lost from Britain’s high street last year, equating to just under 5 a day. But while more shops closed than opened in the summer, openings bounced back as the year drew to an end and overtook the number of closures.



According to LDC’ latest annual report on Great Britain’s retail and leisure trends, openings and closures slowed sharply by the date of the EU referendum vote, with openings dropping off faster than closures and creating a gap between the two.

But, as Matthew Hopkinson of LDC explains, "in a year of surprises, what followed was a bump after the slump. Both openings and closures rose back to early-year levels in the autumn, but this time openings had the upper hand and began to correct the net losses of the mid-year trough. It was not enough to fill the gap, but by Christmas it had begun to repair the damage."

Accordingly, the year-long improvement in vacancy rates slowed in the first half of 2016 as the gap widened, but the second half showed a slight improvement.

"The gradual inching-down of the headline LDC vacancy rate which began in 2012 came to a halt in the middle of the year. This eventually began to show improvement as 2016 ended and that downward trend has been re-established in the early months of 2017," said Hopkins.

The report revealed that England has the lowest national vacancy rate at 11%, followed by Scotland at 11.9% and Wales at 15.2%.

In terms of English regions, London had the lowest vacancy rate at 7.4%, followed by the South East and South West (both at 9.9%), while the North West had the highest rate at 15.3%.

The index also found that shopping centres continue to improve most in vacancy (14.8% to 13.2% in 2016) followed by retail parks (6.6% to 5.7%) and town centres (11.7% to 11.2%). Retail parks gained more occupied units net than any other type of location, but they only contain one in forty stores in the country.

And as businesses across the UK prepare themselves for the new next business rates coming into effect on 1 April, LDC has revealed that twice as many small shops were revalued from below the £12,000 to above as from above to below.  Additionally, shops under 3,000 sq ft were also valued on average at 30% more per square foot or metre than larger stores.

Greater London won’t be the only region to see retail valuations rise. Retailers in the South East and East Midlands will also see their overall rates bills increase significantly, in fact Southwold will have increases of 170%, while Market Harborough will face rises in RV of more than 50% in 199 retail premises, according to the report.

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