Retailers were dealt a double blow in October as fewer people headed for the high street and the number of empty shops increased.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard revealed this morning that the vacancy rate in UK town centres rose to 10.3 per cent in October, an increase from July’s rate of 10.1 per cent.
It is the first rise in shop vacancies since the first quarter of 2013.
Footfall improved by one percentage point over the month, but was still 0.8 per cent lower than a year ago as the mild autumn weather added to retailers’ woes.
Shopping centres recorded the biggest decline, down 1.9 per cent, while high street visitor numbers fell by 1.4 per cent. In contrast, out of town retail parks enjoyed a 1.9 per cent rise in footfall.
Springboard director Diane Wehrle said the rise in vacancy rate was evidence of retailers closing loss-making stores, with a large number of leases set to expire over the next year. “We need to become accustomed to an increasing vacancy rate over the next year as this accelerates,” she said.