Liverpool sees fall in number of empty shops

New figures from Liverpool BID Company reveal percentage of empty retail units in Liverpool city centre is at its lowest level since 2019 and is below the national average. Tony McDonough reports

Bold Street
There has been a fall in the number of vacant retail units. Picture by Tony McDonough


Just 6.2% of retail units in Liverpool city centre are now empty compared to 9.8% during the COVID pandemic.

According to figures published by Liverpool BID Company, the number of empty shop units in the city centre (excluding Liverpool ONE) is now below the national average of 10.2%, the North West average of 9.7% and the London average of 8.7%.

Liverpool’s vacancy rate has seen a drop after rising during 2021 during the pandemic, where it reached 9.8% in October 2021 and 8.6% in January 2022.

The national level has also continued to drop. It reached 11.8% in July 2021 and 11.7% a year ago in January 2021 before dropping to 10.2% in the latest figures.

For independent units, the vacancy rate is 42.2% in Liverpool city centre, while the North West is 48.4% and the UK is 42.7%.

Liverpool compares favourably with all other regions of the UK. In the South East the vacancy rate is 9.7%, 9.5% in the South West, 15.9% in Wales, 10.4% in the East Midlands, 12% in the West Midlands, 15.3% in North East Yorkshire and 7.4% in Scotland.

Jennina O’Neill, chair of Liverpool BID’s retail and leisure board and centre manager at Metquarter, said: “Some major brands have moved to Liverpool in the last 12 months, including Decathlon, Flannels, Albert’s Schloss, Hawksmoor and Gaucho.

“These openings have a positive impact on vacancy rates but also illustrate investor confidence in the city centre and what it has to offer.

“There has been a widening of choice in terms of the independents’ offer and this has given areas such as Bold Street a greater variety.

“Where we are seeing change of use, like Next moving from the large unit on Church Street to the one vacated by Forever 21, we are seeing big brands fill those spaces.

“As more leisure moves into spaces alongside retail, we are building that mixed use offer that drives footfall.”

Liverpool BID Company is a private not-for-profit organisation. It represents the interests of 1,000 levy paying businesses in Liverpool city centre, across two BIDs Retail & Leisure BID and Culture & Commerce BID.

Businesses will vote on the renewal of the Retail & Leisure BID this spring. In November 2022 it formed the UK’s first Accommodation BID, covering hotels and other accommodation providers.

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