1. News
July 17, 2019

FOI figures show around 16% of UK retail outlets lie vacant

Around 16% of all shops and retail outlets in the UK lie vacant, according to Freedom of Information (FOI) figures obtained by global advisory firm Duff & Phelps.

Around 16% of all shops and retail outlets in the UK lie vacant, according to Freedom of Information (FOI) figures obtained by global advisory firm Duff & Phelps.

The data released by the Office for National Statistics revealed that there were 319,000 retail businesses in 2018, which could imply a 15.9% national void rate.

Duff & Phelps restructuring advisory managing director Philip Duffy said: “Getting an accurate picture of the real health of the high street is difficult but by using FOI, we managed to gain valuable insight into what local authorities are experiencing.

“Getting an accurate picture of the real health of the high street is difficult but by using FOI, we managed to gain valuable insight into what local authorities are experiencing.”

“With a total of 418 councils in the UK, our mean average indicates that the total number of retail units that now lie empty stands at 50,578, or an average of 121 empty retail units per council.”

The research results were based on the responses from 47 of 70 local authorities in the UK, who were requested to release information on the number of retail voids in their area under FOI.

The report also noted that 2018 was the ‘year of crisis’ for the retail sector, as some 18 mid and large-sized retailers collapsed in the first 100 days of the year.

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Duffy added: “The impact on local government cannot be underestimated either. FOI also identified that 91% of UK local authorities are retail landlords in their own right.

“Empty units mean lost rental and business rates income, all at a time when many local authorities are reporting increased financial pressures.

“The old financial model of the traditional brick and mortar retailer, based on a high street or shopping centre built around them in the post war era, was centred on regular increases in sales and 25-year leases with upward rent reviews only.

“As a result, it has meant high rents and occupancy costs. This has blown apart as a result of both the discounters and the dramatic uptick in online sales. The remaining question is whether this picture continues throughout 2019 and if so, at what speed?”