One in three UK retail premises are now ‘zombie shops’, research reveals

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As many as one in three UK retail premises are now ‘zombie shops’ that are either vacant, or not producing income, or occupied on only a short-term basis, according to new research by commercial property specialist Colliers.

In its latest Midsummer Retail Report, which looks at trends across retailing and the impact on the UK retail property market, it reveals changes made in shopping habits as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite retailers taking advantage of reduced rents, which have fallen by as much as 50 per cent since their peak in the noughties, to access new and better trading positions, the report also details the “brutal” transition that is taking place.

As a result, Colliers is calling on the government to “do more” to reconcile the interests of landlords and occupiers.

READ MORE: 99 retailers ceased trading every day in 2020 as owners “cashed out” and” cut their losses

This comes as lockdown restrictions have been extended to July 19 and the commercial eviction moratorium extended to March of next year.

“The extension of the commercial eviction moratorium means there will have been a two-year pause on landlords’ ability to collect rent from their tenants. By any measure, that’s an extraordinary length of time for businesses to be rendered unable to function effectively,” Colliers head of UK retail David Fox said.

“Of course, the lockdown has been an equal challenge to tenants and the pandemic has demonstrated in the loss of jobs and livelihoods just how very important the retail and leisure sector is to the economy and wider society.

“The moratorium extension has been generally welcomed by various representative bodies across the sector, but it will also give further wriggle room for those tenants who have taken advantage of the situation.

He added: “This will make it even harder for many business owners who are facing their own continuing crisis to have a sensible dialogue with these tenants.”

“Whilst free market economics must be allowed to be the driving force of changes in the industry, thoughtful legislation and regulation would allow breathing space so businesses can assess options, adjust business models and seek investment for stabilisation – and even opportunities for growth in a rebooted market.”

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1 Comment. Leave new

  • Mark Pellegrini
    July 5, 2021 1:35 pm

    Who can destroy their economy first? Donald and Joe, or Boris…stay tuned for the exciting answer!

    But always money for weapons…

    Reply

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