A quarter of BHS stores still empty, four years after retailer failed
The problems afflicting the UK high street have been illustrated by news from the Local Data Company (LDC) that showed a quarter of former BHS stores remain vacant, even though the retailer collapsed as long ago as 2016.
BHS occupied large sites and finding new tenants for them proved tough in the years following the firm’s liquidation, a task made even harder in the light of this year’s unique situation.
Of the 160 former BHS stores, a little under half have been reoccupied while another quarter have either been demolished or repurposed so they no longer operate as retail sites.
It’s likely that more sites could be repurposed in future as the pandemic has made it even harder to rent out retail property, especially larger units like the BHS spaces.
LDC’s Lucy Stainton said: ”The coronavirus pandemic has considerably intensified [the] challenge in two key ways; the lack of demand for new units as retailers abandon plans to open new sites, and an increased supply of large units as more department stores announce closures including household names such as John Lewis and Debenhams.”
Worryingly too, while the take-up of former BHS spaces was high during the first year after its failure, that take-up has dropped sharply in each successive year.
But some retailers are still taking on large spaces and it’s interesting that of the 91 stores that have been reoccupied, more than a fifth have been taken over by growing chain Primark. Next, which is also expanding its retail footprint as it moves into new categories, has taken on four of the stores while others are now occupied by H&M, Poundland and B&M.
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