Number of empty shops in the UK at its lowest for 18 months

The number of empty shops on UK high streets has fallen to its lowest level for 18 months, according to a new survey by property agent Cushman & Wakefield.

The average availability of retail units across the UK’s main shopping streets was 9.8 per cent at the start of August, down 1.3 per cent from May.

Cushman & Wakefield attributes the decline in empty properties partly to strong retailers expanding their market share after weaker operators failed and fell into administration last year.

‘While trading conditions will remain tough for many retailers in the latter part of 2010 and into 2011, the worst of the retailer shake-out appears to be over and the number of stores available due to administration is significantly down on last year,’ says Cushman & Wakefield.

Central London has the lowest levels of availability, at 5.1 per cent, with the North of England also performing well with 7.7 per cent. Outer London has the highest level of availability in the country, at 17.4 per cent, followed by the Midlands and Scotland at 12.1 and 11 per cent respectively.

Central London has seen record rental deals recently, with Spanish fashion chain Desigual reportedly paying £7642 per m2 for retail space on Oxford Street and Chanel reportedly paying £4m for a 25-year lease on its Bond Street flagship store.

There have been a number of high-profile flagship store openings in central London since May, including TK Maxx on Charing Cross Road, the Apple store in Covent Garden and Louis Vuitton Maison on Bond Street.

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