The number of vacant shops has been on the rise since the peak of the recession in 2008
More than a tenth of shops in city centres across the UK now stand empty, according to new figures from the British Retail Consortium
It was found that the average vacancy rate across the UK was 11.2 percent – however, Northern Ireland, the worst affected region, reached an average of 17.1 percent.
Wales was the second-worst affected region, with 13.4 percent of city centre shops standing empty, and the north of England reached a 13.1 percent vacancy rate.
The BRC believes that this is due to consumer spending being affected by high rates of inflation, low growth in wages and job losses.
As well as finding that the number of empty shops had risen, the BRC’s survey found that footfall (the number of people going into shops) had also fallen. The average footfall in the UK had decreased by one percent in comparison to a year ago.
However, the figures for footfall fluctuated greatly across the UK. Wales saw a decrease in footfall of 9.2 percent, the West Midlands was down by 6.6 percent and the east of England fell by 6.2 percent.
Not all areas saw decreases – in London, footfall actually increased by 1.6 percent, south west England saw a 0.4 percent rise and Scotland 0.2 percent.
Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: "This is the first time we've been able to publish footfall and vacancy figures in this level of detail and it shows stark differences in retail health between some of the UK's nations and regions.
"Generally, the parts of the UK where the public sector is a bigger proportion of the economy are the ones where customer spending is most likely to be hit by worries about job prospects and cuts, meaning people are shopping less and more retail businesses are failing."