THE number of empty shops on Britain’s high streets has hit its highest level for more than a year.
Figures from the British Retail Consortium today showed the town centre vacancy rate was 11.3% in October – the highest figure since the surveys began in July, 2011.
Yorkshire was third-highest with a vacancy rate of 14.6% behind Northern Ireland at 20% and Wales at 15.1%.
Footfall in the three months to October fell by 0.4% compared with a year ago – but was better than the 3.3% fall recorded in the previous quarter.
The number of shoppers fell by 2.6% in Yorkshire during the three months to October. The hardest-hit regions were Eastern England, which fell by 4.1%, the South West, down by 4% and Scotland, 3.9% down.
Northern Ireland (14.4%), the West Midlands (4.2%) and Greater London (1.4%) were the only regions to show increased footfall.
BRC director-general Stephen Robertson said: “This new high in empty shop numbers really sets alarm bells ringing.
“It’s the worst vacancy rate since the survey began in July 2011 and confirms that financial challenges for both customers and retailers are far from over.
“If the Government wants to breathe life back into our town centres and ensure the retail industry can play its full role in job creation it needs to freeze rates in 2013.”