Government must act to help struggling UK town centres, BRC
The UK’s town centre vacancy rate was 10.3% in July, a slight increase on the previous quarter rate of 10.2% and the highest since January 2015, according to research by the BRC and Springboard.
Footfall fell by 1.9% in July, compared to the same point last year when it was down by 0.9%. This is the worst decline for July since 2012, with High Streets, shopping centres and retail parks all struggling.
“Retailers have faced a challenging environment this month, with declines in footfall on High Streets and shopping centres. Sluggish sales growth and declining footfall also contributed to the rise in town centre vacancies,” says Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium.
“High Streets and town centres play an important part in our local communities, and we should be concerned by the rise in empty store fronts. If the Government wishes to avoid seeing more empty shops in our town centres then they must act to relieve some of the pressure bearing down on the High Street.”
Currently, retail accounts for 5% of the economy, yet pays 10% of all business costs and 25% of all business taxes, Dickinson notes. “The rising vacancy figures show this is simply not sustainable. We need an immediate freeze in rates, as well as fixing the Transitional Relief, which leads to cornershops in Redcar subsidising banks in central London,” she comments.