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

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 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.

 

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

Inflation up to 2.5%

Consumer price inflation, UK: July 2018 – ONS

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 2.5% in July 2018, up from 2.4% in June 2018.

  • The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month inflation rate was 2.3% in July 2018, unchanged from June 2018.
  • Rising prices for computer games and transport fares produced the largest upward contributions to change in the 12-month rate between June and July 2018, although computer game prices tend to be highly variable from month to month.
  • The upward effects were offset by falls in prices for clothing and footwear, and the removal of initial charges for investment in some unit trusts.
  • Prices for clothing and footwear fell by 0.4% between July 2017 and July 2018, the first time the 12-month rate has been negative since October 2016.

Inflation falls

Consumer price inflation, UK: February 2018: ONS

  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 2.7% in February 2018, down from 3.0% in January 2018.
  • The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month inflation rate was 2.5% in February 2018, down from 2.7% in January 2018.
  • The largest downward contributions to the change in the rate came from transport and food prices, which rose by less than a year ago.
  • Falling prices for accommodation services also had a downward effect.
  • Rising prices for footwear produced the largest, partially offsetting, upward contribution.

Retail Sales

Retail sales in Great Britain: Aug 2016 – ONS

  • In August 2016, the quantity bought (volume) of retail sales is estimated to have increased by 6.2% compared with August 2015; all store types except textile, clothing and footwear, and household goods showed growth with the main contribution coming from food stores.
  • The quantity bought decreased by 0.2% compared with July 2016; the largest contribution to the decrease came from non-food stores which was offset by increases in non-store retailing, predominantly food stores and petrol stations.
  • The underlying pattern in the retail sector is still one of growth with the 3 month on 3 month movement in the quantity bought increasing by 1.6%.
  • The amount spent (value) in the retail industry increased by 4.1% compared with August 2015 and decreased by 0.5% compared with July 2016.
  • The amount spent online increased by 18.5% compared with August 2015 and increased by 0.4% compared with July 2016.
  • Non-seasonally adjusted average store prices (including petrol stations) fell by 1.9% in August 2016 compared with August 2015.