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Colliers warn that zombie shops are widespread

2nd July 2021

Colliers have recently published their Midsummer Retail Report 2021, in which they warn that a huge number of shops now stand unoccupied or are occupied on a insecure basis.

As many as one in three retail units are vacant, occupied on a short-term basis or are not producing any income, highlighting just how much of an impact the COVID pandemic has had on the sector.

The future of high streets and town centres has also been made increasingly uncertain by the accelerated decline of bricks and mortar retail. By comparison, online retail has seen a substantial uplift, with demand for warehouse and distribution units remaining consistently strong throughout the last 15 months.

The Head of UK Retail at Colliers, David Fox, commented that:

“There’s consensus that UK retail property void levels are around 15%, but if you also take into account the stores that are let on flexible agreements, post-CVA terms etc., then the real void rate must be double that.

“So, we would estimate that around one in three UK shops are either vacant, not income-producing or occupied on very short-term arrangements.”

This estimate also acknowledges that many retailers are actively seeking to take advantage of extraordinarily low rent levels in some of these shops.

Indeed, many are being marketed at a rent level almost half what they were when demand was at its peak, many businesses are therefore hoping to consolidate their position to take advantage of pent-up retail demand post-pandemic.

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