20,000 shops gone and 43,000 empty since 2010
Written by Peter Walker
Since 2010 more than 20,000 shops have ‘disappeared’ from high streets and the communities that they once served, according to Altus Group.
Analysis by the real estate adviser, of official government data showed that, between 2010 and 2019, 20,143 shops in England and Wales have been converted into homes, different types of use such as restaurants and cafes, or have been demolished.
During the same period, Altus Group found that 14,314 ‘new’ shops came onto the local rating lists, meaning that the overall number of shops has fallen by 5,829.
The total number of shops in England and Wales has fallen from 430,360 on 1 April 2010 to 424,531 today. The Centre for Retail Research suggests that, within the next five years, the overall number of shops will fall even further by 8,500 to around 416,000.
The numbers do not include those shops which are currently vacant and to let. The national town centre vacancy rate climbed to a four year high of 10.2 per cent in April, according to the British Retail Consortium vacancies monitor, putting the number of empty shops at 43,302.
Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus Group, commented that over the coming months and years, as retailers continue to reduce their store portfolios with the growth of online shopping, there will be an increase in the intensity of land repurposing.
The government has committed £900 million in business rates cuts, aimed at independent retailers, slashing bills by a third from April for two years for those smaller properties in England with a rateable value of less than £51,000.
Joshua Bamfield, a director at the Centre for Retail Research, said the fact is that business rates, rising labour costs and low levels of profitability are driving retailers out of the sector and this problem will get worse, not better.
"The government has done a lot to reduce the impact of business rates upon smaller retailers, but that ignores the major impact that rates have on the larger businesses that face similar problems.”
It has been estimated that business rates represent 42 per cent of all the government taxes imposed on the largest 1,000 retailers.