Glimmer of hope for retailers

Retailers hail better shop vacancy rates

empty shopsAn improvement in shop vacancies provides a “glimmer of hope” for the high street, says a retail chief.

The figures show fewer empty shops, although this could be a result of firms taking up units in the run-up to Christmas.

David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “The improved shop vacancy rate in our town centres provides a welcome glimmer of light, more so as it comes after three successive quarters of deterioration.

“We look forward to seeing whether this develops into a sustained improvement in shop vacancy rates or whether it simply reflects retail units being taken up on a temporary basis in the run up to the crucial Christmas trading period.

“Shopper footfall in Scotland sagged slightly once again in October, and for a sixth successive month, albeit at a less pronounced rate than the month before and also when contrasted to the average of the past three months. We do have to keep in mind that Scotland’s retailers are increasingly adept at harnessing the internet and multi-channel innovations to get through to consumers who might not have time to travel to the shops.

“With the clock firmly ticking down towards the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and Finance Secretary’s Scottish Budget in a few weeks’ time, retailers’ will be looking for convincing action to bolster consumer confidence and also stem the relentless rise in government-inspired cost pressures.”

Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director at Springboard, said: “October is fast becoming an important ‘look and compare’ month for shoppers ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is driving up footfall across all retail destinations.”

Scotland summary

In October, footfall numbers in Scotland were 0.6% lower than a year ago, better than the 0.8% decline in September

The vacancy rate in Scotland was 8.7%, a sharp fall from the 10.6% rate in the previous quarter

UK Summary

Footfall in October was 0.2% lower than a year ago, unchanged from the decline in September. This was above the three-month average of -0.6%

Footfall in retail park locations increased 2.9% year-on-year. This is below September’s high of 4.0%

High Streets and Shopping Centres reported a decline in footfall of 1.0% and 1.3% respectively

Four regions in England reported positive footfall growth in October, the East Midlands continuing its strong performance

The national town centre vacancy rate was 9.1% in October 2015, down from the 9.8% rate reported in July 2015. This is the lowest reported rate since we began reporting the data in July 2011


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