Shops remain empty on UK high streets

September 8, 2023


Image via Gwydion M. Williams

The consequences of the global financial crisis are becoming more visible as an increasing number of vacancies appear on Britain’s high streets. According to new research, in some parts of the UK one shop in every three remains closed.

The report from the Local Data Company, surveying 1000 towns and cities, suggests that there is a widening poverty gap between the most affluent towns and their poorer counterparts in a classic north-south divide.

The national average shows that one in seven shop units remain vacant with little sign of recovery. That figure represents around 14.5% of all stores. This has risen significantly from the 5% of vacant spaces when the recession began in 2010.

Size also seems to be a factor with smaller towns suffering further problems. 30%  of shop remain empty in Dudley and West Bromwich.

The South remains the least affected with vacancy levels at just 1% in areas such as  Bromley in Kent and Camden in London. This is contrasted with areas in the north like Blackpool and Grimsby, each with vacancies above 27%.

While the smaller shops are struggling to stay open, the big supermarkets continue to expand with an expected 40million square feet of stores in the coming years. However 80% of those will be situated outside of tradition town centres.

Out of town shopping centres, the convenience of internet shopping and rising costs due to inflation are all contributing factors to the decline in the high streets. The levels of vacancy have remaining stable over the last nine months suggests that perhaps a new model for retail has been established.

Is your high street beginning to look desolate? Would you rather shop online? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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