VACANCY RATES BY LOCATION TYPE
In line with the net change results, shopping centres saw vacancy rates increase the fastest of any location type in H1 2020. Vacancy jumped from 15.6% in H1 2020 to 19.4% in H1 2021, an increase of 3.8% in the six-month period. This is the largest half-year increase tracked by Local Data Company since 2013.
Regional Vacancy Rates
Vacancy has risen by more than 1% across all GB regions since H1 2020. Scotland has seen the lowest vacancy rate rise of 1.1%, despite facing some of the toughest restrictions since the onset of the pandemic. This could be due to a higher percentage of stores in the country that remain temporarily closed and are yet to have their fate decided (6.8%). Scottish operators will also benefit from business rates relief up until the end of March 2022, ending much later than England which will cause a slight time lag on the impact to vacancy across the country.
Compared to H1 2019, the biggest increases in vacancy rate have been seen across Greater London (+4.0%), the Northeast (+3.7%) and Wales (+3.6%). Vacancy in the Northeast is particularly concerning as it now sits at over 20%, meaning that more than 1 in 5 shops are vacant across the region. Government measures such as the new Levelling Up Fund will go some way to support the regions and towns that need the most assistance. These will be locations which have seen a sharp retreat of national chains in recent years and now find themselves with an oversupply of retail and leisure units. Tactics previously utilised in the Southeast, such as redeveloping retail property into residential, may not be appropriate for areas with lower demand for housing. Landlords and place-makers will need to think more broadly about creative solutions which meet the needs of these communities.
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