48,000 UK shops are lying empty, according to new figures – and the numbers could be set to rise this year.
Around 14% of all shopping centre, retail park and high street shops stood empty during 2011, with many shopping areas locked into ‘a spiral of decline’, according to a new report from retail consultants Local Data Company.
Vacancy rates were highest in the north-west of England, with over a quarter of shops empty in towns such as Stockport, Blackburn and Blackpool.
Which? shopping expert Matt Clear said: ‘High street shops have an increasingly tough job as they deal with difficult economic conditions and strong competition from online shops.
‘Shops which can provide great customer service and a good range of products at reasonable prices will have the best chance of surviving.
‘Our survey of the best and worst high street shops shows which shops are getting this right and which need to do more.’
Major chains closing
Several familiar high street names closed their doors or went into administration during 2011. Many of those that ran into trouble, such as Barratts, Focus DIY and TJ Hughes, weren’t rated highly on our most recent survey of the best and worst shops.
2012 has started in a similar fashion as La Senza and Peacocks were recently placed in administration, and American electronics giant Best Buy closed its UK stores after just 18 months of trading.
Following her recent report into the state of Britain’s shops, Mary Portas recently announced with the government that 12 towns would be offered the chance to bid for part of a £1m ‘Portas Pilot’ fund to help revitalise their high streets.
- Best high street shops – 100 shops rated in the UK’s biggest high street shopping survey
- Best online shops – find out which shopping sites were rated highest by 14,000 Which? members
- What to do when shops go bust– how to protect yourself from shops going bust, and how to claim your money back if it does happen