New figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) found that the UK’s retail vacancy rate saw a slight improvement compared to that of the previous year.
In the fourth quarter of 2022, vacancies improved to 13.8 percent, 0.1 percentage points up from Q3 and 0.6 up compared to the same period in 2021.
All locations were reported to have seen improvements, most notably for shopping centre vacancies which improved to 18.2 percent, down from 18.8 percent in Q3.
Meanwhile, high street vacancies also improved, from 13.9 percent to 13.8 percent in Q4.
Retail park vacancies saw a 0.7 percentage point reduction to nine percent, and remained as the retail location with the lowest vacancy rate.
Greater London, South East and East of England had the lowest vacancy rates, while the highest were reported in the North East, Wales and the West Midlands.
Despite the positive outlook, CEO of the BRC, Helen Dickinson noted in a statement that vacancy rates had not actually recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
Dickinson did suggest, however, that the increases could be attributed to the return of international tourists and office workers to towns and city centres, a fact that had likely given retailers the confidence to invest in repurposing or reopening empty units.
She continued: “The first half of 2023 will likely be yet another challenging time for retailers and their customers. There are few signs that retailers’ input costs will ease, putting further pressure on margins, and making businesses think twice on how much investment to make.
“However, the situation should improve in the second half of the year, as inflationary pressures begin to ease and consumer confidence is expected to return.”