Just over 100 former Woolworths stores vacated following its collapse in January 2009 remain empty.

Figures from the Local Data Company reveal that 702 of the 807 locations are now occupied with discount retailers the largest sector filling stores.

Iceland is the single largest retailer to have picked up former Woolworths premises, taking 7% of the estate.

Poundland, 99p Stores, B&M Bargains, Poundstretcher and Tesco Express are among those to have snapped up the variety store group’s high street shops.

Stores have been gradually filled. In July 2009, 60% of locations remained empty, by July 2010 40% remained still remained vacant. This time last year 30% of the stores remained empty and the figure now stands at 13%.   

The number of demolished properties has risen from 1.3% of the original 807 stores in January 2011 to 8.4% this month.

Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson said: “It is encouraging to see 87% of the old Woolworths shops now occupied. It reflects the fact that Woolworths was once the anchor store in many centres and that the current market has enabled greater opportunity for retailers to relocate to more prime locations due to high shop vacancy rates.

“The significant rise in the number of demolished properties is noteworthy and may be connected to empty rates relief being abolished and the state of the market in these tertiary locations with little or no retail demand.”

Table 1. National Woolworths Vacant Stores Rate

East Midlands67%44%28%13%
East of England74%46%42%18%
Greater London48%16%13%8%
North East90%45%35%26%
North West62%41%38%7%
Northern Ireland50%50%47%38%
South East76%41%27%13%
South West75%40%27%11%
West Midlands70%44%32%15%
Yorkshire & Humber58%36%18%5%


Table 2. Regional Woolworths Vacant Stores Rate

RetailerEx-Woolworths units occupied (%)
99p Stores5%6%
B&M Bargains4%5%
Tesco Express2%3%
Original Factory Shop3%3%