New figures released today show that town centres are continuing to enjoy a resurgence, with a further fall in the number of empty shops.
According to The Local Data Company's (LDC) monthly barometer, shop vacancy in February was 13.6%, down from 14.1% in February 2013. And the number of empty shop and leisure premises together fell to 12.0% from 12.5% last February.
The figures reinforce the continuing improvement of the last 18 months.
"This is further positive news with regards the reoccupation of vacant units in our town centres," commented LDC director Matthew Hopkinson. "There has been a significant rise in incentives from councils, central government with business rates and more flexible occupation, such as pop-up shops, which is helping this take-up.
"It does also reflect the structural changes taking place in our town centres, where traditional shops are closing and being replaced by food and beverage, services such as nail bars and tattoo parlours as well as significant growth in the convenience sector."
However, he warned: "Whilst we're seeing more positive signs for consumers, which ultimately determines the success of shops, the real acid test in 2014 and 2015 will be what proportion of these newly-occupied units stand the test of time as the omnichannel environment matures and the consumer becomes even more technologically enabled and empowered."