Death of the High Street ‘may have been called too early’ as Britain’s shop vacancy falls to lowest in 7 years

The number of shops vacant in the UK has dropped to 12.4% in April, the lowest rate since December 2009. VPS, the property management specialist has highlighted the implications of the research issued by the LDC data company this week.

“It is great to see less empty retail units on our high streets, but it still represents more than one in every ten shops.” comments Gavin Pringle, Managing Director of VPS. “And nearly 12,000 of these have been vacant for over three years. Plus there have been two household names that have gone bust this year, BHS and Austin Reed, which may signal more dramatic changes in the coming months.” Gavin warns. “So whilst some may have called the death of the High Street too early, there are still challenges to face in promoting empty shops back into use.”

VPS manages over £1 billion of empty properties, including shops, public houses, warehouses and homes. “We have seen some innovative examples that put vacant units back into occupation, such as pop-ups, short-term work spaces or low rent property guardian schemes. It is far better for the local economy and the environment if an alternative use can be found rather than just leaving them empty.” Mr Pringle concludes.

Originally focused on protecting and managing vacant premises, VPS have found increasing demand for their security and management services beyond that remit, with rising interest for their fixed CCTV systems, ground maintenance, garden landscaping, construction site protection and, more recently, locks and glazing.