On a recent visit to the Brent Cross shopping centre in North London we counted no less than nine empty prime shop locations.
The centre's official store count is 120 and we estimate that the total number of prime locations are about half of this. This would mean that the vacancy rate for the shopping centre is 15%.
According to LDC the average retail vacancy rate for the whole of the UK was 12.4% in April 2016. The shopping centre vacancy rate was 13.2% in April 2016, down from 14.6% in April 2015. However, compared to the London average of just below 8%, Brent Cross stand out from the crowd. Some of this might be attributed to competition from Westfield shopping centres located in West and East London.
The recent failures of BHS and Austin Reed might only be two examples of zombie retailers on the UK high street. Zombie retailers do not make any profits and might be running at a small loss, but have been for a long time and are vulnerable to small changes in currency exchange rates, customer sentiment, not having enough capital to re-invest in stores, etc.