Incredibly, the national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 10.1 per cent in July this year – welcome news compared to April’s rate of 10.6 per cent. Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, explains that it “indicates a growing flexibility and responsiveness of landlords in the face of tough trading conditions, which has increasingly included the introduction pop-up shops and temporary lets. And the good news underpinning this is that the drop in vacancies over each of the last three quarters is widespread, occurring in at least six UK regions.” However, every tenth shop still remains unoccupied. And Scotland reported the greatest rise in regional footfall, up 4.4 per cent year-on-year, with only three regions in England reporting footfall above the UK average – South West (0.2 per cent), North & Yorkshire (-0.1 per cent) and the East Midlands (-0.3 per cent). Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium (BRC) director general, said: “These results are a mixed bag, with footfall easing downwards in July but with the shop vacancy rate recording its best performance since our records began in July 2011. “Out-of-town destinations performed well, off the back of strong sales of furniture, home accessories and outdoor and garden items, while high streets and shopping malls dipped reflecting weaker sales of goods such as beauty products.” By Shané Schutte
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