A British Retail Consortium (BRC) report has revealed that overall Great Britain (GB) shop vacancy rate increased to 13.2% in the third quarter of this year from 12.4% in Q2.

This increase in the rate is for the ninth consecutive quarter from Q2 2018. It shows the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the country’s retail and hospitality sectors.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “With a second wave of the pandemic underway, we have seen a record increase in the number of shuttered shops.

“Shopping centers fared the worst among retail sites due to the higher proportion of fashion outlets, where consumer demand has been hit hardest.

“The uncertain climate has also meant that even those looking to expand are holding off making investments in new stores. As a result, we expect to see the retail vacancy rate continue to rise.”

The report also revealed that vacancies on high street remained in line with the overall rate at 13.3% in Q3.

In addition, Shopping Centre vacancies rose to 16.3% from 14.3% in Q2 and Retail Park vacancies were up slightly to 9.2% in Q3.

The impact on shop vacancies and local communities was reduced by the UK Government’s business rates holiday.

Dickinson added: “If retailers see a return of 100% business rates next April, the consequences will be severe; the Government should ensure that rates bills reflect current market reality by continuing a level discount at 50%, thereby creating a more sustainable cost base for businesses so they can continue to trade and invest in recovery and longer-term growth.

“Without this, there will be unnecessary store closures and the loss of thousands of otherwise viable jobs.”