Aug 25, 2009
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High street vacancies rise to 12.6%

Aug 25, 2009

LONDON (Reuters) - More than one-in-ten shops on an average high street in Britain are now standing vacant, as the recession continues to force struggling retailers out of business, a report showed Monday 24 August.

On main retail thoroughfares in the UK's towns and cities, also known as "high streets," an average of 12.6 percent of shops are now vacant or available to lease as at August 1, property agency Cushman & Wakefield said.

This is up from 12.2 percent in May, and 11.4 percent in February, Cushman said. "The average availability of shops across the UK has risen by only 0.4 percent, indicating that we may be at or approaching a peak in vacancies," Cushman Head of Retail Services John Strachan said, adding he expected the situation to improve from next year when the economy recovers.

The worst hit high streets have been in outer London, the South West and Wales, where vacancies rose to 17.7 percent, while the South East and Central London fared the best, with vacancies falling to 7.6 and 8.9 percent respectively, it said.

Of the total shops vacant, 3.3 percent are due to retailers that have gone into administration, a figure that has held steady since May, Cushman said.

"This figure has remained the same since our previous survey in May and is further evidence that we have probably now seen most of the major high street administrations," Strachan said.

Creditors in British home improvements retailer Focus DIY on Monday 24 August backed a rescue plan Monday 24 August that should safeguard around 4,500 jobs, as the company said trading was ahead of its expectations.

(Reporting by Daryl Loo; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

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