Empty Shops Rate Sets 'Alarm Bells Ringing'
One in 10 shops in UK high streets and shopping centres were empty in October - the worst figure since the British Retail Consortium's nationwide survey began in July 2011.
As retailers continue to battle against stagnating sales and rising costs, the new figures showed last month's town centre vacancy rate at 11.3%.
A fifth of store units are currently empty in Northern Ireland, while the rate for Wales is 15.1% and for the North & Yorkshire region the rate is 14.6%. Greater London had 7.6% of its units lying empty.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said the latest figures would set "alarm bells ringing" and the financial challenges for both customers and retailers were far from over.
Big brands including JJB Sports, Clinton Cards, Blacks Leisure, Game and Peacocks have either disappeared or scaled back their presence in town centres after going into administration.
And the collapse of electricals chain Comet this month will be another blow.
Mr Robertson renewed his call for Chancellor George Osborne to freeze business rates, which are set to increase by 2.6% in April.
He said: "Many retailers are battling stagnating sales and rising costs, and next year's threatened business rates increase can only make matters worse.
"If the Government wants to breathe life back into our town centres and ensure the retail industry can play its full role in job creation, it needs to freeze rates in 2013."
In response, a Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Empty shops are a wasted economic opportunity that spoil the town centre.
"That is why we are proposing to scrap the damaging red tape that is keeping so many shops boarded up, allowing young entrepreneurs to open pop-up shops and turn the high streets into an exciting start-up launchpad.
"The best thing Government can do to help businesses is to provide them with a stable economic environment, which is why we want to protect local firms from soaring tax bills.
"We've postponed the revaluation, which will stop soaring tax bills for 800,000 firms, and given businesses the option of spreading this year's increases out over three years.
"Councils also have the power to grant discretionary discounts, and we've temporarily doubled small business rate relief, meaning approximately a third of a million businesses - including many small shops - are currently paying no rates at all."
what do you think?
When I was in Britain in March, I saw lots of empty shops filled with.... bookies, cheap cafes, pound shops, sex shops and just about nothing worth having.
Windows Live User
Plus you pay heavily for parking. Rip off by the councils and still they cant see how to fix it Dummies!
This has been a slow decline for many years and is nothing new . I blame high rents and rates and supermarkets that buy in bulk to keep cost down . Gone are the days of the local corner shop . Very sad !!!
To true the butcher shop I worked in for 12 years closed due to Asda being greedy this was in 1992 now the butchers shop will soon b a thing of the past very sad for communitys
Windows Live User
At least a good butcher could give you a piece of meat with taste and also a piece you could chew! Supermarket gives you an piece that will walk home with you & for top end prices
all the councils have in charge a person who set the amount of rates shop owners have to pay ,,this can varey from 50 to 500 a week.most shops close because the rates are killing them..as a shop owner once myself i know ..but try tell the councils cut the rates down for shops i say its better getting 1/4 of your rates and the shop stays open ,,than having shops closed....but every council says the say no..
Agree with that David,perhaps the solution is the shop owner to pay a council rate that reflects his profits
It's the age of the warehouse and online shopping People don't have the time to go into town were you can't park or pay for one hour then you have to move shops have to charge more because of high overheads . Some town centers are a nightmare to get to with all the one-way roads that just seem to take you away from the center because of course all town centers are predestranised . I am as guilty as anyone I will shop on line it's cheap easy and less hassle
Spot on Paul. There are far too many cities in which it is an absolute nightmare to drive Try Newcastle with its bus lanes & no car lanes.I wouldn't entertain it so I don't shop there. Over the years they have tried to drive motorists out of cities and now they are paying the price
Windows Live User
Not much use being pedestrianised when there are no pedestrians is it? Good for the bus companies to get out of town, even though their buses are empty. Something wrong but they just cant put their finger on it !!
Growth policy of this Country, Tax and sack, bring in cheap labour from around the world. And they wonder why nobody is buying anything, we got no money but of more concern neither has the young. Beware of the future!
i agree with you the younger generation wont put up with having no jobs,no money,no flat,car,and so on,and they never will,this is our main concern,they never will live a nice life,no future is what they are facing,Beware of the future! i agree.
Roy E Millington
councils set the rates too high, charge too much for parking and allow too many supermarkets & shopping malls o open just wherever they wish. Plus its cheaper to get the supermarket to deliver your shopping than to drive to emty town centres & then have to pay over he top to park
Roy. Tend to agree. Councils have seen local business rates and the motorist as cash cows milked to fund their grandiose schemes. Then they wonder why there are empty shops and no one goes into our town centres any more. It aint rocket science
Taxed out of business
Not only too much tax but one has the problem of parking fees, which seem to be always rising and over zealous parking attendants
This country is finished r.I.p england
this is what you get having the Tories in .
Nothing to for with the Tories it's evolution times change people's habits change and the decline has been going on for years so maybe you could blame the government of the last ten years or so but you won't do that as you clearly support the Labour camp
Sorry Stephen, Wrong again
Stephen. So this decline of the high street has only been going on since May 2010 has it??
Stephen before you write you should think. I can tell you are a Socialist, b ut surely you can take the trouble to think
so all the shops were empty in 2007 the shops have been shutting like mad for the last 2 years / and who is in power yes that's right the Tories 60% of shops have shut down in the last 2 years yes Mr berry you should think
peter i'm never wrong
in the last 2 years 134 big retailers have shut down .that's 7,500 shops . then you have all the small shops as well
There were a lot of shops shutting in 2007. It was being said then that the High St. was dying. the trend has continued and will do. Think again Stephen
stephen, I think the decline started in Thatchers years, being in business at the time my business loans were anywhere between 15 and 18%,I presume shops were the same, and being honest whether labour or tory the councils piled on business rates. Many shops gave up, but there are always those who take up the mantel and will give it a try. Its been this way through those years to present day, I agree its got worse these last few years competeing with supermarkets who are intent on taking everyone's business, You name it they sell it,most big stores now have chemists,post office, opticians,photo developing,financial services,even mortgage, these seem to be their latest targets,
, they have already killed off or reduced petrol stations, clothes and shoe shops(imports), butchers, music and literature,off licences and pubs,tobacco,most electrical, toys, sports etc etc. Their greed knows no bounds. Majority of their goods are imported from cheap labour sources and any UK supplier are screwed to the limit and below to maximise their obscene profits.They can do this because UK suppliers have no other outlets to sell too, all the shops are closing
Windows Live User
It would take someone with a hole in the head to open a small town shop. There are no shoppers apart from those few hitting the charity shops. The pubs are closing at 6000 per year adding to the ghost town feeling. Town centre markets are a waste of time, not like in the 50's 60's 70's. Now they offer cheap foreign goods instead of the unsold quality at a cheap price from the end of range gear at M&S or Doggarts. These people arent market traders who could see a good deal. they are ebay buyers buying/selling rubbish
Quite - it's charity shop, bookies, "bargain" store all over the high street.
Our council spent thousands turning our market into a fancy tiled carpark and the stalls now in the street making it a haven for thieves and pick pockets
and tanning salons
Without doubt, town centres tend to be the grumpiest, most unfriendly places I ever bothered visiting for thirty years. I never came across such a miserable bunch of people. I'm glad and grateful for the few items I bought from such areas but I'm really happy I haven't been back for so long.
I agree - shop assistants often seem to be really cross with the world. I hate smiling and thanking for change (which is mine anyway!) when they can't even be arsed to look at me when dumping it into my hand.
Movvi. But you will darlin, because you were brought up properly
Went to a cafe this morning. I didn't have change and i was subjected to looks of hate (not joking), sighs and tuts, even when i offered to go and get change. Went back in later and, very politely, told them that i would never be back due to that rudeness
Good for you, Louisa!
Ah, cheers, Dave! Go Louisa too! I'm just chuffed to bits to see I was allowed to post "arsed"! Ha ha ha. I was cross last night, clearly!
Movvi i was surprised that got through as well! Well done. x Hey Jools, where have you been recently - you've been quiet my girl! x
It's all about evolution but it's no fun for those working in such places which are shutting down at a silly speed. I support local shops but can't say the same for those in towns. Our closest is about 20 miles away and it has just been dreadful for years so I seek out alternatives. I also think the shopping experience is important too - so shops should also wise up - no-one wants to be served by a grubby, miserable assistant who doesn't stop talking to their pal behind the counter while serving. In my experience, this sort of thing is rife and does a shop no favours.
The BRC director general has just realised that ''alarm bells are ringing''. Award him an honours degree in the bleeding obvious.
What he means of course is that he has just removed his ear plugs and has just noticed. Buffoon!
Just been into town this morning, so depressing, shops closed, those open had no customers, no Christmas feeling about, I'm guessing by the posts on here it's the same everywhere?
much of the problem lies with big energy companies ,supermarkets ,petrol costs ,travel cost .concil ripp off charges ,it all leads to less money for people to spend ,so the small shops and business suffer ,then close leaving more room for the big boys to move in on, and exploit the public all over again
Good point Ronnie.
cheap shops,charity shops,beggers,chuggers,parking charges,intimidating groups,religious nuts,people not of these lands selling gimmicks in tempory sheds,cold, wet ,boring,overpriced overstaffed superstores shoving overpriced stuff under your nose that you dont need but have been browbeat into thinking over the years you have to buy because if you dont you are of an inferior race.Love and greet you family and friends with a small gift purchased with a little thought instead of financial value off the internet! HAVE A HAPPY CHRISTMAS and remember,more will always want more.