The number of stores on UK high streets lying vacant has risen by 0.4% to 12.6% in the three months to August.

Figures show 12.6% of prime sites are vacant or available to lease, according to the new Retail Availability report from real estate adviser Cushman & Wakefield.

The 0.4% increase is an improvement on February’s figure, when the number of vacancies grew 0.8%

Administrations accounted for 3.3% of vacant sites - a figure that has remained unchanged since May.

Worst affected areas were the South West and Wales which saw an increase of 4.2% since May, meaning 17.7% of high street shops remain vacant or available.

The South East and Central London have the lowest levels of availability at 7.6% and 8.9% respectively. 

John Strachan, head of retail services, Cushman & Wakefield believes we have “now seen most of the major high street administrations”.

He said: “The average availability of shops across the UK has risen by only 0.4% indicating that we may be at or approaching a peak in vacancies. The retail market remains very challenging but we are seeing rising sales and confidence that the country will return to economic growth before the end of the year.”