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Empty Shops Illustrate Growing North-Side Divide

26.8% of Droylsden shops lay empty as geo-political divide widens

Written by . Published on February 4th 2015.

Empty Shops Illustrate Growing North-Side Divide

THERE are now twice as many empty shops in the North than the South, according to new research.

"At a regional level the polarisation between the North and the South is as wide as ever"

A report from The Local Data Company - which tracks over 550,000 premises across 3000 town and shopping centres - states that one in five northern shops now lay empty, compared with only one in ten vacant shops in southern towns and cities.

The North East (18.8%) has overtaken the North West (18.6%) as the worst performing UK region for shop vacancies for the first time in six years.

The report highlighted Droylsden as one of the worst towns affected, with 26.8% of shops now laying empty.

Fellow North West towns Morecambe (26.8%), Bootle (26.4%) and Stockport (25.9%) also made the UK's top ten towns with the highest vacancy rates.

The worst UK performers were Burslem (29.4%) and Stoke (27.7%) in the West Midlands, and Hartlepool (27.3%) in the North East.

26.8% of Droylsden shops lay empty26.8% of Droylsden shops lay empty

The report states that although there has been an overall improvement in UK shop occupancy since 2012, the divide between empty shops in the North and South was 'disproportionately high'.

The top ten towns with the UK's lowest shop vacancy rates were all in the South (the positioning of Lincoln is arguable), with Debden in Essex and Highgate in London both showing no vacancies at all.

The best performing region was London with only 8.7% of shops laying empty.

LDC director Matthew Hopkinson said 20% of empty shops (around 10,000) had been so for three years or more - "the equivalent of five Manchesters laying empty," he said.

He added: "At a regional level the polarisation between the North and the South is as wide as ever with London's vacancy rate being less than half that of the northern regions.

"The significance lies with the fact that whilst traditional shops have been closing it has been the supermarkets and convenience stores that have been expanding significantly which has kept the occupancy rates balanced.

"The question as to who will occupy these newly vacant stores as well as those, which have been empty for a while is a very difficult one to answer positively."

There have even been calls for some of the empty shops to be levelled.

“If something’s been vacant for more than three years, it really does beg the question of what’s its purpose in life," said Hopkinson. "It’s clearly not to be a retail outlet and therefore something has to change."

The LDC report follows much more encouraging retail news for Manchester, as the city centre was named as the top retail destination outside of London for a second year running with £910m of retail revenue generated - read here.

Stockport Merseyway shopping centreStockport Merseyway shopping centre

Top 10 worst hit:

Burslem (West Midlands) 29.4%

Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent (West Midlands) 27.7%

Hartlepool (North East) 27.3%

West Bromwich (West Midlands) 27.1%

Droylsden (North West) 26.8%

Morecambe (North West) 26.8%

Stoke (West Midlands) 26.6%

Bootle (North West) 26.4%

Walsall (West Midlands) 26.2%

Stockport (North West) 25.9%


Top 10 least affected:

Debden (East of England) 0%

Highgate (Greater London) 0%

Beaconsfield (South East) 0.9%

Stanmore (Greater London) 1.1%

Eastgate, Lincoln (East Midlands) 1.3%

West Wickham (Greater London) 1.4%

Cobham (South East) 1.7%

Askew Road (Greater London) 1.8%

Bridport (South West) 1.9%

Oxford, Summertown (South East) 1.9%

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Mark ButterworthFebruary 4th 2015.

Sir Peter Smith - de facto Chancellor of the new Manchester City Region Canton says he hope it will be fiscally neutral not depending on top-ups from London. Would like to wish him all the best especially when figures like these rubber-stamp the task they have in hand.

AnonymousFebruary 4th 2015.

When shops are empty they are lying empty, not laying empty. See www.bbc.co.uk/…/business-31124506… for the correct version of Mr Hopkinson's quote.

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