Good news for the high street - less empty shops

Since the recession hit, we have been constantly bombarded with the idea that the British high street would become an empty, tumbleweed-filled wasteland. Its only hope of survival: superhuman shop botherer Mary Portas, wearing a cape and her knickers over her tights.

boarded up shops

Well, that’s not strictly true, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium, who say that the number of empty shops on the high street in England has actually fallen since its all-time high of 11.9% in April.

In July, the number of vacant premises stood at a healthier 11.1%. And with footfall up by 1% over the quarter, there’s been a slight boost in trade.

Diane Werhle of the BRC said: ‘It seems that occupiers are starting to return to the high street, suggesting a greater degree of optimism over future trading prospects.’

So with a growth of 2.3% overall in July, could the high street be slowly recovering all on its own? Or are these figures based on pop-up shops cashing in on the BBQ and sausage frenzy of the long hot summer?

Director General of the BRC Helen Dickinson urges caution.

‘We've seen some cause for cautious optimism since the start of the year, but the path to recovery remains fragile. Bringing business rates into line with how town centres operate in the 21st century is a surefire way of offering retailers more certainty and scope to invest.’

So, there are less boarded-up branches of Clinton’s, but we’re not out of the woods yet. Time to put your knickers on, Portas, and actually DO something.


  • Pedant
    *Fewer* empty shops.
  • Ian
    Doesn't it just mean that here are more Starbucks', Sports Directs, Subways and other high street behemoths who have purchased the empty space at knock-down prices, rather than any actual choice of variation of the shopping experience?
  • badger
    Just can't get enough of those charity shops, bookies, and mice-infested kebab shops/sweet centres
  • Spencer
    ^^ What Ian said ^^ Remove coffee shops, £1/99p shops, boots/superdrugs and subway - and most 'high streets are nothing more than a collection of banks and restaurants/cafes.
  • Kevin
    Misses the point that we WANT the Poundlands, the Sport Directs etc They are all really busy as we WANT them on our high streets!
  • So T.
    ^Kev, just because you want these places, it does not mean that we all do. Go back to drinking Tennant's you Muppet.
  • Pedants' p.
    @ Pedant It should be a lower case 'f' on your '*Fewer*' you daft-arsed pedant.
  • Big M.
    Kevin's right though. People don't want the businesses that go under.

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