Many high streets are caught in a downward spiral of empty shops and falling rents, according to a property consultancy.
In its latest annual retail report, Colliers International says that almost a quarter of main high streets are failing, and that the gap between the best and worst-performing shopping centres is growing.
Colliers surveyed 365 retail centres and found that in the high streets of 83 towns the growth of vacant shops has triggered a “downward spiral” as shoppers cut back on spending. A further 42 of the retail centres surveyed are said to be “degenerating”.
Paul Moody, head of retail agency at Colliers, said: “In most cases it is worse in the towns we monitored than it was last year. Retailers are migrating to the best-performing areas. Once you have rents falling and voids starting to grow in certain towns, it becomes a downward spiral.”
According to Colliers, the main features in the high streets of these “terminal towns” are now pound stores and fast-food outlets.
The study also found that over a third of retail centres are stable, while more than a quarter – places such as Brighton, Stratford-upon-Avon and Harrogate – are thriving. Only 3% are improving.
Colliers says that real retail rents fell by over 5% when inflation is taken into account, with the average prime retail rent now £111 per sq ft.