The north of England has seen the number of empty shops double since mid 2008.

A survey by The Local Data Company found the north and the Midlands have both performed badly. The Midlands has performed worse than the national average with a vacancy multiple of 1.6.

Derby has the highest vacancy rate among the large centres – at 22%.

Wales and the west have performed much better with only a 25% increase in empty shops since mid 2008.

The report predicts the rate of growth of vacancies is showing no sign of stopping.

The LDC said 12,000 independent stores have closed this year alone and nearly 7,000 multiple chains have closed.

The rise in empty shops is also attributed to the reduction of new shop openings, thought to be a drop of 50% in the last 18 months.

The British Property Federation said the Local Data Company survey is ‘unequivocal evidence of how badly the property and retail sectors have been hit’ and demonstrates how the situation has worsened since the government brought in Empty Property Rates in April 2008.

Andrew Teacher, BPF spokesman, said: ‘The more industrial regions have suffered the greatest hits of redundancies and as a result, this has impacted on retailers, leading to vacancies doubling in the north. But all areas of the country are suffering, in particular places like Margate in the south east, which sit on the borders of big cities. The west has faired better because of less over-expansion in the boom years. Cities like Bath and Bristol have remained a lot more stable.’

He added: ‘We cannot expect any government to subsidise our shops but it is irresponsible to press on with damaging, short-term tax hits which push firms under. Landlords are keen to do everything possible to help their occupiers stay afloat and what we need from ministers is an end to its tax on empty properties. Yes, it may raise cash in the short term, but if you’re sending firms to the wall and penalising those who want to save space to keep their businesses going, then ultimately there will be less development and fewer jobs in the longer term, raising less tax revenue.’

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