More British shops standing empty than ever before
“This town... is coming like a ghost town” sang The Specials back in 1981. At the time, we all thought it was a jolly ditty about a fictional town populated by the kinds of spooks and ghouls that we saw in shows like Scooby Doo. But no.
In fact, the song was a chilling prediction of Britain 30 years hence, with more high street shops boarded up than ever before as the economic gloom infected the centres of our towns like some kind of evil plague.
According to the Local Data Company, town centre vacancies across Britain rose from 12 per cent at the end of 2009 to 14.5 per cent at the end of 2010. Back in the golden era of 2008, the figure was a poxy 5%. No mention of THAT in The Specials’ back catalogue.
The stats show that there is a dramatic divide across the country with 16.5 per cent of retail units standing empty in The North and The Midlands compared to 12.3 per cent in The South.
Retail specialist Mark Hudson from PricewaterhouseCooper blah-de-blah-blahed: “The further significant shift in shopping behaviour to online, which is now heading towards around 10% of retail sales, is the underlying driver behind the long-term structural change in how we shop and the key reason why shop vacancy rates continue to increase. This, combined with the fact that existing space is not converted to alternative uses as fast as new space is added, is contributing to an over-supply of space," he said.”
Specials’ vocalist Terry Hall was not available for comment as this story went to press.