The number of vacant shops on the average UK high street has increased since 2009 as retail moves towards a new era.

Research commissioned by the BBC, surveyed 500 towns and cities across the UK and found that the national average for shop vacancies now stands at 14 per cent, from 10.5 per cent in 2009.

Despite an increasing number of retailers continue to focus their attention to the online arena, 2,633 restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets opened in the first six months of this year, while 2,145 hairdressers and beauty salons started up across the towns and cities surveyed.

Matthew Hopkins, from the Local Data Company who carried out the survey said “ This survey has shown that a significant part of the high street’s issues are not related to the recession; it is more a reflection of our changing shopping habits.

“The internet was widely heralded as the death knell for the high street, but the data shows that shopping in person is still a key pastime for many”.

Travel agents and off-licences have gradually been disappearing from the UK streets in the past few years while the number of charity shops and convenience format supermarkets have increased considerably.

Of all the cities surveyed, Altrincham was the worst affected when it came to empty shops, with 29.6 per cent of properties vacant, followed closely by Stockton-on-Tees, Rotherham and Margate which all had a higher rate higher than 25 per cent.

Liz Peace, CEO of the British Property Federation, said “ The rise of internet shopping coupled with the recession is forcing high streets to adapt.

“Only those centres that can quickly meet our day-to-day needs, or that can offer a fun shopping experience, will continue to thrive”.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com