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One in seven UK shops lie empty

'Spiral of decline' could result in more vacancies

Peacocks logo Peacocks is just one of several high street stores that have been placed in administration

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.

Tough competition

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.

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