The latest Footfall and Vacancies Monitor from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed that the proportion of empty shops in London was 8.4% in January, down from 9.5% in October 2016.
However, the BRC has warned that this improvement has highlighted a growing divide between the capital and areas which are plagued by vacant properties.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of BRC, said: “…In some parts of the country, the number of empty shops remains worryingly high and act merely as a blot on [the] landscape of local communities.
“And while overall the rate has tended to remain around 9-10% since July 2015, the variation between successful and vulnerable locations grows ever wider.”
BRC’s warning follows news that the owners of London’s Burlington Arcade have appointed real estate advisers to market the retail destination.
In July, bookmakers Ladbrokes and Gala Coral Group were instructed to sell up to 400 betting shops in order to receive clearance for a merger.
Helen added: “At a time when retail is being re-imagined as customers seek more engaging experiences in our high streets, town centres and retail park and centres, the incentive for retailers to innovate and invest in physical space is being curtailed by the upward only trajectory of business rates.
“This disincentive needs to be removed and the burden reduced, thereby encouraging – rather than deterring – investment to the benefit of those local communities most impacted.”
January’s figures are for the period 1-28th January 2017.