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Vacant Retail Premises – An Important Update from Clearway

Vacant Retail Premises – An Important Update from Clearway
Vacant Retail Premises – An Important Update from Clearway

Bear with us.

Before we tell you about securing your unoccupied retail premises, we need to throw some facts and figures in your general direction – and they’re pretty stark.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), overall shop vacancy rates in the UK for the first quarter of 2023 were at 13.8%. And, the percentage for shopping centres is even higher – 17.8%

That’s about 58,000 high street shops up and down the country, as per data from the ONS and the Local Data Company, in a report by the centre-right think tank Onward.

Why is this?

Well, the BRC cites cost pressures and inflation as likely causes, and these make sense. Also, it almost goes without saying that the coronavirus created the perfect environment for online spending to thrive. The e-commerce habit has stuck, it would appear.

However, nothing beats actually looking at goods before we buy them, so the demise of the high street has no doubt been exaggerated. Folks love shopping for things they need – and don’t need.

As a property manager, landlord or portfolio manager, you may be “in between” commercial tenants. There may be security or access risks, with weak spots you didn’t know about.

Is YOUR Unoccupied Retail Premises At Risk?

Empty retail units equals no income.

They also evoke a feeling of melancholy and neglect.

Once drawing in shoppers to browse and buy, they now cast a lifeless gloom in the retail environment. In other words, they’re an eyesore and look a bit depressing. And, the economy suffers; people notice the signs that a shopping area may not be doing as well as it should and may go elsewhere.

Importantly, vacated shops increase the risk of vandalism and damage, illegal occupation, arson, and other criminal activity. Because? Vacant spaces on the high street or in a shopping centre are extremely obvious. Unlike unused office spaces, which aren’t necessarily in everyday, run-of-the-mill locations, such as out-of-town warehouses or factories (which are still vulnerable, of course), an empty, vacated store silently trumpets its shut-up-shop status to everyone walking past, day in, day out.

In short, vacant shops and stores can be a nightmare. But, there’s an answer.

We’ll examine why focusing on security solutions is crucial and take you through a service that Clearway is proud of. ShopShield One is a set of services we developed explicitly to tick all the must-have boxes for retail owners should your premises become vacant at any stage.

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Reasons to Secure an Empty Retail Shop or Unit

  • Break-ins and theft are common with untenanted units. This could be because intruders think that they will get away with the crimes they commit without being caught. Plus, any damage caused could be expensive to repair.
  • Commercial squatters are undoubtedly hyper-aware that occupying an empty shop is not currently against the law, unlike residential squatting. In pursuit of the space for their own gain, people in your property without permission could be dangerous. This could be due to weapons, drugs or other illegal items.

Again, they may cause damage and leave rubbish behind; an unpleasant mess, with hazards linked to pest infestation and arson.

  • The longer a retail unit is left empty, the more likely it is to deteriorate, leading to further repair costs.
  • A deserted shop attracts dirt, dust and grime. Leave the place empty, and grime will attract grime, accumulating on the unit’s ceilings, floors and walls. You may have a challenge renting it out in the future.
  • Securing an unused store can prevent the previous tenants from re-entering the property and passing the keys or security codes to others. Equally, you may wish to have easy, secure access to the premises as and when you choose – but no one else.
  • Preventing unwanted mail from piling up near the entrance is an effective way to reduce a fire risk. A pile of envelopes is not just a bad look, it’s also an awesomely attractive prospect for someone with a match or two.
  • Last but by no means least, you must recognise and act on any security or access risks to ensure that the property remains insurance-compliant. This is nothing short of essential.

For your peace of mind, Clearway’s expertise in retail premises security covers and addresses all the above issues. As the landlord or property manager, we must emphasise that you are responsible for taking proper measures. However, we’ll offer you all the advice you need.

Let’s introduce you to:

ShopShield One


It’s an excellent fixed-cost security solution explicitly for retail shops and units.

In a nutshell, ShopShield One is a suite of services and products that have been devised to keep your vacant property safe and secure until your new commercial tenants move in.

It’s a valuable and highly practical package that includes as standard:

Risk Assessment

Clearway’s Security Surveyor will conduct a tailored, in-depth risk assessment to determine any possible vulnerabilities or security issues affecting your retail premises. Your appraisal will thoroughly review the threat level and the options available to reduce exposure.

Once completed, this can be a practical starting point and a reference on which to build your overall security solution.

Two Locks Changed

Occasionally, previous tenants may forget to return their keys or take them with them for other reasons, which could leave the way clear for unauthorised entry. We will replace the mechanism or barrel on up to two standard locks.

Extra locks are charged at £45 per lock.

Installation of a Key Safe

Clearway will fit a mechanical, metal, key-operated locking key safe on an external wall, most likely at the rear of the premises.

This service enables easy access to sanctioned personnel only and reduces the need to have several sets of keys copied, which could get lost or stolen, thus increasing risk.

Sealing of Letterboxes

Arsonists are drawn to unsealed letterboxes, and many buildings are set ablaze through petrol or lighter fuel pushed through these small but significant gaps. We will install a temporary physical barrier, thus taking these weak points out of the equation.

Flammable Waste Collection

Exiting tenants may leave behind piles of paper or cardboard, thus creating a fire risk.

As part of your ShopShield One package, Clearway will collect and carefully dispose of any paper-based waste material – for example, any unwanted post, equivalent to three standard black bin bags.

Did You Know…?

That there’s even more?

Indeed, there is.

In addition to the standard package, Clearway offers the following bolt-on retail security services to our ShopShield One solution:

  • Utilities Drain-Down

To ensure that gas and electricity are correctly isolated and that water systems are fully drained to remove all standing water.

  • Retail Property Inspections

Your weekly, fortnightly or monthly health check by a Clearway security specialist to flag up problems, such as any attempted intrusions or vandalism, and identify any required repairs.

  • Commercial Waste Removal – Up to half a tonne

A fast, efficient and fully licensed service to remove any fly-tipping or large-scale waste. This includes hazardous waste.

  • Wireless Alarm Systems

This is a video-verified alarm system that communicates via the mobile network.

Operating independently of mains power or a telephone line connection, you can place them wherever you need. When the motion sensor is activated, the video records a 10-second real-time capture, which it sends to our monitoring station – or directly to your mobile device.

What We Think

Our ShopShield One suite combines pragmatic, real-world services from a specialist security business. It really is a one-stop shop (apologies for the cliché). But, there are options to consider, too.

We provide a wide range of security solutions, including CCTVsteel security screens and doors, retail hoardings, access control systemsperimeter concrete barriers and manned guarding and dog patrols.

Should it become vacant, even temporarily, we hope we’ve stressed and highlighted the importance of protecting your retail premises. And, that you should take action by talking to Clearway sooner rather than later.

A thriving retail sector is good for us all. It’s all about critical mass: With more shops, more people will want to visit the area, and they’ll spend more money – hopefully, with you. With fewer operating retail units, the opposite is naturally the case.

The retail sector is still gaining ground after COVID. Let’s work together for its continued success.



Gideon Reichental

Vacant Property Security Consultant

Gideon is an experienced property specialist with a commitment to excellent customer service and support. With over eight years dedicated to the niche field of vacant property security and services, Gideon has been at the forefront of developing and implementing best practices and successful strategies for safeguarding vulnerable properties, demonstrating a profound understanding of the complexities involved. His hands-on experience includes managing portfolios of over 200 vacant properties directly, alongside senior management roles overseeing broader portfolios that encompass more than 2000 properties.

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