Vacancy rates at retail parks across the UK are at their lowest level since 2007, a report by retail property research consultancy Trevor Wood Associates has found.

The level of vacancy rates at retail parks fell from 9.9% in 2012 to 8.8% at the end of 2013. Vacancy rates were 9.2% in 2011.

East Anglia and the East Midlands saw the sharpest drop in vacancy rates in 2013, both falling to 5.6% from 8.2% and 8.3% the year before.

Retail parks in Scotland and Northern Ireland recorded the highest vacancy rates, with 13.9% and 12.8% respectively.

Trevor Wood Associates attributed the drop in vacancy rates across the UK to demand from comparison goods retailers - store groups that sell products for long-term use that consumers are likely to compare with other retailers before they make their purchase, for example TVs, fridges and freezers.  

The report found that by the end of 2013, such retailers occupied 53.2% of retail park space - excluding DIY - up from 51.5% the previous year.

Total floor space in retail parks in the UK stood at 179.9 million sq ft by the end of 2013, up on 178.7million sq ft the year before.

The report found that 3 million sq ft of space was taken on during the year by just eight retailers: B&M, Dunelm, Home Bargains, Next, Pets at Home, Poundstretcher, TK Maxx and Wren Living.

B&Q continued to be the largest non-food retail park tenant, followed by Homebase and Currys.

Trevor Wood, owner of Trevor Wood Associates, said: “During 2013, the combined impact of retail failures and downsizing potentially increased the amount of retail warehouse accommodation available in the UK by more than two million sq ft. However, the take up by a number of expanding comparison goods and variety retailers has helped significantly reduce the amount of space available, and we anticipate further reductions in vacancy rates during the course of this year.”