Battling falling sales, declining footfall and rising vacancy levels, the British retailers have made a renewed plea to freeze business tax rates in the country.

The cost of business in the UK has remained high while tough economic conditions have severely hit margins and profitability leading to the closure of several high-street outlets.

British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported a vacancy rate of 10.9% for the month of January 2013 as high profile retailers such as Jessops, Blockbuster shut several outlets in the month.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson remarked that despite the slowdown in vacancy rates, when compared to the peak of October 2012, several regions in the country – such as Wales – that suffered from high vacancy rates.

Vacancy rates in Wales currently stand at 17%, up from 15% recorded in December 2012.

"If the Government wants to support reducing the vacancy rate further, it could really help by freezing business rates in April. The rising cost of doing business is a looming threat to the future health of retailers and high streets," opined Dickinson.

Retail footfall in the country also declined 4.6% when compared to January 2012 and represent the weakest figures since April 2012.

The decline was primarily attributed to the severe snow in the second half of the month.

Each of the three segments – out-of-town locations; shopping centers and high street declined for the month.

"This steep drop in footfall is obviously a cause for concern but, as our sales figures showed last week, fewer shoppers on the streets doesn’t seem to have dented sales growth in January," added Dickinson.