Almost two years after Woolworths’ collapse, 40% of the variety group’s stores remain empty.

Although the figure is an improvement on the 60% that lay vacant a year ago, it equates to about 300 shops according to research by The Local Data Company.

The highest occupancy rate is in Greater London, where 81% of former Woolworths stores are in use, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber at 64%.

Pound stores and grocers account for 22% and 15% of occupied stores respectively. Iceland and 99p Stores have led the take-up of former Woolworths shops over the last year, having taken 20 and 26 stores respectively.

PwC leisure and retail director Andrew Garbutt said: “After Woolworths’ demise many commentators speculated that variety retail was dead but it is alive and kicking on many high streets.

“As consumers emerge from the recession they are maintaining their appetite for fixed-price and multi-price value retail.

“This is a structural, permanent change which is changing the face of the high street and the shopping repertoire of British consumers.”