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Shop vacancies stable

But restaurant fears may lead to rise in empty premises

THE SHOP vacancy rate across Britain remained at 13 per cent in May although there are fears the total empty premises level may begin rising soon as the number of restaurants is reaching saturation point.

The figures from the Local Data Company show that in food and beverage premises the level was up by 0.1 percent to 8.14 per cent giving an overall vacancy rate of 11.7 per cent, increased by 0.1 per cent from the previous month, which is lower than the peaks of more than 15 per cent in 2010 and 2012 but still higher than rate of less than six per cent before the economic crash in 2008.
LDC director Matthew Hopkinson said: “There are no dramatic changes to report with all the drama happening with deflation, retail prices and profitability. The overall vacancy rate remained stable in May but the one to focus on going forward is the leisure (food and beverage premises) rate.
“This is a very fast-growing market with 20 per cent growth in restaurants alone in the last five years and, as such, is heading towards saturation, cannibalisation and ultimately survival of the fittest.
“With so many chain operators expanding so rapidly we are seeing an impact on the independents but we are also seeing the sustainable offer peak in certain locations with the profitability of all not being sustainable.
“At some point therefore we are likely to see some distressed operators which will in turn result in closures and this a possible increase in this vacancy rate.”
LDC visit more than 2,700 towns and cities, retail parks and shopping centres and record the occupancy status as occupied, demolished or vacant with no trading business at that location on the day visited.

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