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Full extent of store closures revealed

habitatclosingThe full damage caused to shopping areas across Britain has been shown in store vacancy figures from the Local Data Company.

Some 14.3% of stores – 48,000 – were empty during 2011 according to LDC and although a slight improvement on 2010's record 14.5%, in 2008 figure was just 5.5%.

'I do worry that 2011 will prove to be a false dawn of stability. We know that 50pc of all shops' leases are up for renewal between now and 2015 and many just won't be renewed,' says Matthew Hopkinson, LDC director says he expects the situation to worsen as shoppers continue to spend more online.

LDC monitored more than 700 high streets and town centres for three years. A significant majority of the above average vacancy rates are to be found in the Midlands and North. Indeed this applies to all the top ten worst performers including, for example, Stockport with a vacancy rate over 30%. Nottingham, Grimsby, Stockton, Wolverhampton, Blackburn, Walsall and Blackpool all have vacancy rates over 25%.

Similarly the best performing centres are mainly in the South and West. Although York and Harrogate see vacancy rates below 10%, so do Exeter, Kingston, Camden, Cambridge, Taunton, Salisbury and St Albans, the best performer with an 8.2% vacancy rate.

Scotland: Many of the large Scottish centres have above average vacancy rates. The worst performer overall is Paisley with a rate approaching 24%. Edinburgh by comparison, stands at 11%.

Wales: The two largest retail centres in Wales - Cardiff and Swansea - both see above average vacancy rates, but overall the worst performer is Newport with a rate around 27%. The best overall performer is Port Talbot with a rate just over 8%.

East Midlands: With the exception of Chesterfield and Lincoln, all the large East Midlands centres see above average vacancy rates with Nottingham leading the way at 29%

East: The Eastern region sees most large centres above the 10.9% average vacancy. Dunstable is the worst performer at over 22%. Cambridge and St Albans are the best performing centres with single digit vacancy rates.

London: Overall London sees a low vacancy rate at just over 10%. Amongst the large London centres, Wandsworth is the worst performer with a vacancy rate of over 30%, but this is very much an outlier with all the other large centres within striking distance of the average. Kingston and Camden are the best performers with vacancy below 10%.

North East: Vacancy in the North East is, on average, over 16%. All the large centres in this region perform relatively badly with Stockton at nearly 27% vacancy just edging out Sunderland and Newcastle. Small and medium centres perform better with Chester-le-Street the best performing medium sized centre, for example, at just under 9% vacancy.

North West: With an average vacancy rate of nearly 19%, retail in the North West is under pressure. Stockport is the worst performing of the large centres with a vacancy rate above 30% but Blackburn and Blackpool run it a close second. 70% of the large centres see above average rates. Chester and Carlisle are the best performers with rates around 14%.

South East: Although there are still some overly high vacancy rates in the South East (Reading at 19%; Dartford at nearly 27%), apart from a couple of really poor performers, most centres are performing well in difficult circumstances. Brighton and Hove is the best of the large centres at 11.5% while Leigh Park and Margate are amongst the worst small centres in the country with vacancy rates above 36%.

South West: Bristol and Gloucester are the worst performers amongst the large centres in the South West, both with vacancy rates around 22%. By and large this is compensated for by good performance elsewhere in the region with Exeter, Taunton and Salisbury all with single digit vacancy. Overall the average vacancy rate is around 11% in the region.

West Midlands: The average vacancy rate for the region stands at 16% and many of the centres in the region are clustered quite closely around this mean. Wolverhampton, Walsall and Stoke are all notable exceptions, all with vacancy rates north of 25%. Leamington Spa is the best performer in the region with a rate below 14%.

Yorkshire & Humberside: Of the large centres in the region, Grimsby is the worst performer with a vacancy rate over 28%. However, 85% of the large centres in the region see above average vacancy. The best performers of the large centres are York and Harrogate, both below 10%.