By Daniel Hunter

Reacting to new figures from The Local Data Company, published today (Tuesday) which show shop-vacancy rates still high in many towns, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said long-term plans for reviving high streets are good but recent retail failures show real damage is being done now.

Stephen Robertson British Retail Consortium Director General said: "It's a small mercy that shop vacancy rates are not rising but they are still worryingly high in many locations.

"Long-term plans for reviving our high streets are good but real damage is being done now and needs to be addressed now.

"The scale of retail failures since Christmas and number of shops standing empty show the effects of high costs and weak demand on retail businesses and the people and places that rely on them.

"Recommendations on town centre management, investment and access which have come from the BRC and the Portas' review can help but they are not enough.

"The Government should be keeping down the cost pressures it is responsible for. Most urgently, it should reduce the eye-watering 5.6 per cent business rates increase it plans to impose in April."

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