The British Independent Retailers Association has welcomed the latest shop vacancy rate figures, which show a decrease in the last quarter.
However the trade body, which supports more than 6,000 independent stores throughout Britain, has warned that consumer confidence is still at an all-time low and the cost-of-living crisis is yet to hit.
The report, released this week by the British Retail Consortium and Local Data Company, highlights that in the third quarter of 2022, the overall GB vacancy rate decreased to 13.9%, which was 0.1 percentage points better than Q2 and 0.6 percentage points better than the same period last year. This was the fourth consecutive quarter of falling vacancy rates.
High Street vacancies decreased to 13.9% in Q3, which was an improvement on 14.0% in Q2. Shopping Centre vacancies fell to 18.8%, down from 18.9% in Q2 2022. Retail Park vacancies decreased to 9.7% in Q3, a 0.5 percentage point improvement from Q2 2022. Also, it remains the retail location with by far the lowest vacancy rate.
Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “It’s always good to see vacancy rates falling, as none of us want to see empty buildings on a high street. While this is positive news, we should be mindful of reading too much into it, given the current pressures.
“Consumer confidence is still at an all-time low just as we are in the middle of the most important trading quarter for retail. The full impact of the cost-of-living crisis has not been felt yet and the Chancellor should bear this in mind when he makes his Autumn statement on November 17.”
He added: “We are still very concerned by the reduced consumer spending, high energy costs and the potential for business rates to be increased next year. Vacancy rates are still higher than pre-Covid, so the high street needs constructive support.”
The full report can be downloaded here.