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One in seven Scots shops now stands empty

empty shops in Glasgow

Shop vacancies are rising (pic: Terry Murden)

One in seven shops in Scotland now stands empty as the crisis in the retail sector shows no sign of easing.

The worst hit areas of the UK are Wales and the North East of England where almost a fifth of shops units are vacant.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said that Scotland’s vacancy rate of 14.4% for the fourth quarter was 1.4 percentage points higher than at the same time in 2019.

Shopping Centre vacancies have increased to 18.2% from Q3’s 16.8%.

For the UK the figures represent the the tenth consecutive quarter of increasing vacancy rates, stretching back to the second quarter of 2018.

“The upheaval and tumult wrought by Covid and repeated government lockdowns and restrictions is taking a heavy toll on shops,” said Mr Lonsdale.

“This second successive quarterly spike in the vacancy rate means that one in every seven stores in Scotland now lies empty, a stark and very visible reminder of the crisis engulfing parts of the industry.

“These figures don’t include the announcements over recent days of further store closures by some household names – and the likelihood is things will continue to worsen in the coming months.”

Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at the Local Data Company, said the recent announcements from the likes of Debenhams and Arcadia means the size of the stores coming onto the market will present a real challenge given the likely lack of demand for larger high street units.

“With a limited number of new store openings, structural solutions will need to be found to prevent these vacant units lying empty for 2,3,4 years or more.

“Looking further out, the increase in availability of space will provide opportunities for new businesses, however we must prepare ourselves for the picture to get worse before it gets better.”

See also: Ashley plays hard ball in big retail’s fight for survival

Fourth quarter vacancy rate:

1.Greater London10.7%
2.South East12.4%
3.East of England13.4%
4.South West14.1%
6.East Midlands15.2%
7.West Midlands15.6%
8.Yorkshire and the Humber16.7%
9.North West16.7%
11.North East18.8%

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