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Empty store rate hits three year low

EmptyshopsThe level of empty shops has fallen below 14% for the first time since July 2010, but regional performance continues to show a north-south divide.

The number of empty stores dropped to 13.9% in December, according to Local Data Company figures. This compares to the peak of 14.6% in February 2012.

When all high street businesses are included, such as cafes, betting shops and hairdressers, the north-west has the highest proportion of vacancies, at 17.3%, way ahead of the national average of 12.2%. The best-performing region by far is London, where vacancy rates for all types of high street outlets stand at 8.1%.

Towns with fewer than 200 outlets have an average vacancy rate of 9%, an improvement on 2012. That compares to nearly 12% for medium-sized towns and 15.4% for shopping centres. Out of town retail parks have the lowest vacancy rate at 8.9% but vacancies are increasing.