Recession Shuts Down 26,000 Shops

(Reuters) – THE LINGERING RECESSION has forced almost 26,000 shops out of business, draining life from the economy and leaving hundreds of town centres pockmarked with empty premises, figures from The Local Data Company show.

One in ten of the 251,462 shops in 705 town centres tracked by the data house closed up in the nine months to the end of September, as restrained consumer spending and credit pressures took their toll on frail businesses, the data showed.

More than a fifth of shops in local malls, department stores and mail order centres have fallen victim to the crunch, closely followed by womenswear and childrenswear shops, with 18 percent closing in the period.

Crushing a broad perception that retail chains are more secure than independent retailers, The Local Data Company said both types had been hit equally hard by the slump, seeing 9.9% and 10.1% of failures respectively since January.

Local accommodation businesses have proved most resilient to the downturn so far, the figures showed, with just 4% of 5,039 premises failing to survive.

The figures will make particularly unpleasant reading for hundreds of retail property landlords, who are still required to pay business rates on their properties even if their tenant moves out, Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said.

‘Business secretary Lord Mandelson said the government’s empty property tax was “good for business”. But if charging a hardship tax on real estate firms’ vacancies is the government’s idea of helping business then I’d hate to see him helping an old lady across the road,’ Peace said.

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