Financial News

  • 7 April 2014, 11:25

High Streets Show 'Resilience' After Crash

Around 80% of high street stores left vacant after the collapse of successive retail chains have now been filled, new research suggests.

Accountancy giant Deloitte said Britain's high streets were recovering at a greater pace than rival locations such as shopping centres and retail parks.

Britain's retail environment suffered a major change in the wake of the financial crisis more than five years ago, with a number of household names disappearing.

Chains including Woolworths, HMV, Blockbuster, Comet and Jessops vanished from the retail landscape but Deloitte said "great resilience" was being shown in re-occupancy.

It examined almost 30 major administrations since 2009 and used research from the Local Data Company to track the status of around 5,900 shop premises.

Around two-thirds of the shopfronts were left vacant at some point, but many have since been filled, it said.

The research showed that charity shops, pawnbrokers and bookmakers had limited interest in acquiring the empty shops, instead conventional retailers filled the void.

According to the data, just 3% of shops post-administration have been occupied by charity shops and less than 0.01% have been turned into pawnbrokers or bookmakers.

Like property price variations, however, regional shop vacancy rates are evident.

Deloitte said the North West vacancy level stands at 32% whereas in London the figure is 18%.

Out-of-town shopping zones have apparently been hit hardest, in the downturn.

While the average high street vacancy rate across the country is 20%, it is 29% at shopping centres and 37% for retail parks.

The better high street re-occupancy rate is aided by lower refurbishment costs in comparison to large out-of-town locations.

Deloitte found that the average vacancy rate for the High Street is 20%, but it rises to 29% for shopping centres and 37% for retail parks.

"The results of this research are surprising and seem to challenge a number of myths around the state of the high Street," Deloitte director and report author, Hugo Clarke, said.

"They would suggest that far from being dead, the high street appears to be showing great resilience and a capacity for re-invention.

"It seems that a structural shift is taking place with the high street emerging as an unexpected winner."

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