National vacancy rates are improving, but is bricks and mortar really safe?

by | Nov 12, 2022

Vacancy rates have decreased by 0.6% in comparison to last year, however footfall has dropped for a third straight month

A recent Local Data Company and British Retail Consortium report shows that in the third quarter of 2022, the overall vacancy rate in Great Britain has decreased to 13.9%. This is the fourth consecutive quarter that this figure has fallen.

Unsurprisingly, retail parks lead the way in reducing empty lots, with high-streets following and shopping centres lagging behind when it comes to filling spaces. Retail parks have had the lowest vacancy rate of any location type since 2013 due to their ease of function and accessibility.

Helen Dickinson OBE, CEO of the BRC says: ‘Vacancies remain higher than pre-pandemic levels as some locations are benefitting from a pickup in tourism and a gradual return to offices, this gave some businesses the confidence to start investing, opening new stores around the country, especially in retail parks. But, levels of footfall are still below those of 2019.’

Proving that despite a glimmer of hope, retail is still set to see tough times. Retail Week’s Springboard Footfall Data shows that the post-Covid uplift to footfall to UK high streets, shopping centres and retail parks fell for the third straight month in September to just 6.8% – down from 8.6% in August and 15.6% in July.

‘Independent businesses in particular have continued to flourish as consumers remain loyal to their local high streets. However, we can’t ignore oncoming economic pressures as consumers face a winter of increased caution and reduced disposable income,’ starts Lucy Stainton, Commercial Director of the Local Data Company.

She goes on to say: ‘Just as the market has started to find its feet, we are now about to face a new round of tests— but perhaps the lessons learned during the pandemic will help chains and independents to weather the coming storm.’

Where does this leave beauty bricks and mortar?

It is widely reported the beauty consumers prefer to hit the high-street when purchasing, mostly due to the sensorial value of purchasing their favourite products.

Earlier this year Samantha Dover, beauty and personal care Category Director put beauty’s survival down to a superior omnichannel experience particularly when it comes to skincare. She says: ‘Consumers are often overwhelmed by limitless choice when shopping for skincare online… most skincare consumers continue to shop in-store, highlighting the importance of continuing to develop the in-store shopping experience.’

If you want more tips for omnichannel experiences from Sephora, you can find out more here.

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