Community ownership of vacant shops: can this save the High Street?

Take Back the High Street: Putting communities in charge of their own town centres – Power to Change Report 

Greater community ownership of high street properties could lead to many fewer empty shops, compared to ownership by private-sector interests such as real estate companies and overseas investors.

  • Shops owned by overseas investors are more than twice as likely to be vacant as shops owned by the public sector
  • Real estate companies own one in four of all empty shops, and overseas investors own one in five; whereas the public sector and social sector [2] own around one in ten each
  • Just 8% of units owned by the social sector are vacant, and 4.5% of those owned by the public sector – compared to 9.2% for real estate companies, 9.6% for overseas investors, 11.9% for institutions like pension funds, and 13% for investment management schemes

Unemployment lower than a year ago

Labour market overview, UK: September 2019 – ONS

 

  • The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.8%; this is lower than a year earlier (4.0%) and unchanged on the quarter.
  • The UK economic inactivity rate was estimated at 20.8%; this is lower than a year earlier (21.2%) and unchanged on the quarter.
  • The UK employment rate was estimated at 76.1%; this is the joint-highest on record since comparable records began in 1971, and higher than a year earlier (75.5%).

Consumer Spending: the lowest increase since records began

CONSUMER SPENDING LEFT LANGUISHING: British Retail Consortium (BRC)

Covering the four weeks 30 June – 27 July 2019

  • On a total basis, sales increased by 0.3% in July, against an increase of 1.6% in July 2018. This is the lowest figure recorded for the month of July since BRC records began in 1995 and comes after the worst June on records. This is above the 3-month average of -1.3% but below the 12-month average of 0.5%. This is the lowest 12-month average on records.
  • UK retail sales increased by 0.1% on a like-for-like basis from July 2018, when they had increased 0.5% from the preceding year. This is above the 3-month and 12-month averages of -1.5% and -0.2% respectively.
  • Over the three months to July, in-store sales of Non-Food items declined 4.1% on a Total basis and 4.0% on a like-for-like basis. This is worse than the 12-month Total average decline of 2.6%.
  • Over the three months to July, Food sales decreased 1.0% on a Like-for-like basis and 0.3% on a Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average growth of 1.8% and the lowest 3-month average since December 2014, excluding Easter distortions.

Unemployment stays low

UK Labour Market: July 2019 – ONS

Main points for March to May 2019

  • The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.8%; it has not been lower since October to December 1974.
  • The UK economic inactivity rate was estimated at 20.9%, lower than a year earlier (21.0%).
  • The UK employment rate was estimated at 76.0%, higher than a year earlier (75.6%); on the quarter, the rate was 0.1 percentage points lower, the first quarterly decrease since June to August 2018.

Unemployment rate at 4%

UK labour market: February 2019 – ONS

October to December 2018

  • There were an estimated 1.36 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 14,000 fewer than for July to September 2018 and 100,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate (the number of unemployed people as a proportion of all employed and unemployed people) was estimated at 4.0%,
  • There were an estimated 8.63 million people aged from 16 to 64 years who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking nor available to work), 94,000 fewer than for July to September 2018 and 153,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The economic inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were economically inactive) was estimated at 20.9%.
  • There were an estimated 32.60 million people in work, 167,000 more than for July to September 2018 and 444,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were in work) was estimated at 75.8%
  • There were an estimated 844,000 people (not seasonally adjusted) in employment on zero-hours contracts in their main job, 57,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

 

Inflation rate down

Consumer price inflation, UK: January 2019 – ONS

  • The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs 12-month inflation rate was 1.8% in January 2019, down from 2.0% in December 2018.
  • The largest downward contribution to the change in the 12-month rate came from electricity, gas and other fuels, with prices overall falling between December 2018 and January 2019 compared with price rises the same time a year ago.
  • These downward effects were partially offset by air fares, with prices falling between December 2018 and January 2019 by less than a year ago.
  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 1.8% in January 2019, down from 2.1% in December 2018.

Growth lowest for six years

GDP monthly estimate, UK: December 2018

Headline annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 1.4% in 2018, the lowest it has been in six years. Meanwhile, the services sector had annual growth of 1.7%, the lowest since 2011 and the production sector had annual growth of 0.7%, the lowest since 2013. Construction annual growth was 0.6%, the lowest since 2012. Construction growth contracted in Quarter 4 2018, the first negative three-month growth since May 2018

UK gross domestic product grew by 0.2% in Quarter 4 2018

Rolling three-month growth slowed further to 0.2%, after growth of 0.3% in November 2018

GDP fell by 0.4% in December 2018