14 RETAIL REPORTS The shocking number of empty shops

According to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), 15.9 percent of all shops and retail outlets in the UK now lie empty. The figures, obtained by global

advisor Duff & Phelps, quantify the scale of the challenge facing the UK High Street after one of the toughest trading periods since the 2008 recession. Philip Duffy, Managing Director,

Restructuring Advisory at Duff & Phelps, stated: “Getting an accurate picture of the real health of the

High Street is difficult, but by using FOI, we managed to gain valuable insight into what local authorities are experiencing. “With a total of 418 councils in the

UK, our mean average indicates that the total number of retail units that now lie empty stands at 50,578, or an average of 121 empty retail units per council.” There were 319,000 retai l

businesses in 2018 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Given this figure, it is believed that the void rate now

stands at 15.9 percent of the total. Duff & Phelps’ figures are in line

with those released by the retail analyst firm Springboard, which found that vacancy rates are now running at around 10 percent. But its figures differ in that local

authorities under FOI have released them, so arguably they should be more reflective of the reality on the ground, as an empty retail unit does not necessarily mean it’s vacant and available for lease. However, figures do point to a more alarming trend with retail

Over 15 percent of all shops and retail outlets in the UK now lie empty Greetings cards under fire

Retailers are increasingly striving to show shoppers that they care about championing diversity and being inclusive. But according to GlobalData, a leading data and

analytics company, in contrast to the increased awareness and sensitivity shown in the clothing and health & beauty markets, retailers of greetings cards have been slow to act. GlobalData’s survey revealed that 76.8 percent

of consumers believe that greetings cards often use imagery which reinforces gender stereotypes, agreeing that cards for fathers, brothers and sons often feature references to sport, beer or cars, while cards for mothers, sisters or daughters do not. Hannah Thomson, Retail Analyst at GlobalData,

said: “This is at odds with a society which is becoming more accepting of the needs and preferences of trans, non-binary and gender neutral people. “While traditional card designs and messaging will continue to appeal, 59.5 percent of consumers agree

that card shops should offer more gender-neutral designs.” GlobalData’s survey also revealed that 68.6 percent

of consumers purchased a card in the past year (up from 63.4 percent last year), and found that 80.8 percent of cards and wrap shoppers like to purchase greetings cards that are unique and different. This rises to 87 percent of 16–24 year olds. Ms Thomson added: “The opportunity exists for

a retailer to set itself apart by ensuring that its range of greetings cards includes a broad selection of alternative designs which do not just reinforce gender stereotypes, and that there is something for everyone. Such a move would likely be welcomed by consumers. “Although by promoting endorsements of diversity,

retailers risk being accused of ‘virtue signalling’, paying careful consideration to messaging around inclusivity and diversity is certainly preferable to being ‘caught out’ by consumers and chastened on social media for propagating stereotypes.”

footfall continually declining, with it recently announced that the retail sector continues to experience poor footfall. Retail is one of the most important

markets in the UK, with its economic output in 2017 equating to £92.8bn, employing some 2.8 million people and comprising over 300,000 businesses. But 2018 turned into the “year of crisis” for the retail sector. In the first 100 days of 2018 some

18 mid- and large-sized retailers collapsed, impacting more jobs than in the entire previous year; this has also appeared to be the trend in the first half of 2019. It is estimated that business rates

are the equivalent of 2.3 percent of overall business costs for a traditional brick and mortar retailer, compared to just 0.6 percent for pure-play online retailers. Duffy added: “The impact on

local government cannot be underestimated either. FOI also identified that 91 percent of UK local authorities are retail landlords in their own right. Empty units mean lost rental and business rates income, all at a time when many local authorities are reporting increased financial pressures. “The old financial model of the

traditional brick and mortar retailer, based on a high street or shopping centre built around them in the post war era, was centred on regular increases in sales and 25 year leases with upward rent reviews only. As a result, it has meant high rents and occupancy costs. “This has blown apart as a result

of both the discounters and the dramatic uptick in online sales. The remaining question is whether this picture continues throughout 2019, and if so, at what speed.”


Barrow Market Hall

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday

Number of Stalls/Units: Indoor 120, Outdoor 24

Barrow Market Hall, 28 Duke Street, Barrow-In-Furness, Cumbria, LA14 1HU • Tel: 01229 876555

Email: • Website:

Indoor and Outdoor Market

Indoor market starts at £42.77 per week + VAT.

Outdoor market casuals from £11 per day. One day trader tables available indoor at £11 per day.

Various sizes of Stalls/ Units


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