Falling incomes and the growth of the internet are major factors for almost one in five shops in northern English cities being shut, experts believe.
Figures released by The Local Data Company (LDC) show that businesses in the North are struggling in terms of empty shop numbers.
The LDC states that the North-East is the worst area nationally for shop vacancy rates, with 18.8 per cent of shops empty in the second half of last year.
This represents a slight improvement on 2013, when more than 20 per cent of shops stood empty.
The LDC found that 20 per cent of North-East shops, or nearly 10,000 outlets, have been empty for more than three years.
In comparison, one in ten businesses in southern cities are standing empty.
London has the fewest empty shops, with 8.7 per cent of shop vacancies in the second half of 2014, representing a fall on the previous year of 0.4 per cent.
Nationally the rate of shop vacancies stood at 13.3 per cent at the end of last year representing a fall from a peak of 14.6 per cent in February 2012.
Mark Stephenson, policy and research manager for the North-East Chamber of Commerce, said:
“It is concerning to see the North-East at the top of this table.
“That said, many of our members in the retail sector have reported strong performance, so this is not a simple straightforward issue to resolve.
“It’s also worth remembering that incomes have been falling for many years and are only now just now picking up.
“The purchasing ability of the man on the street has been hit, which will impact on the high street.”
The North-West had topped the charts for the number of shop vacancies since 2008 but it has now been toppled by the North-East.
The list of top ten worst town centres nationally for vacant space contains Hartlepool at number three, with a vacancy rate of 27.3 per cent.
Source – Northern Echo, 04 Feb 2015