Shop vacancy rates in the UK decreased “significantly” in October to their lowest level in 2012.

In its monthly survey of shop vacancy rates in the UK, the Local Data Company reported that vacancy rates decreased by 0.16% to 14.41% in October 2012.

This reduction means that town centre vacancy rates in Great Britain have fallen below 14.5% for the first time in 2012, moving from 14.57% in September to 14.41% in October.

Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, called the reduction “significant”. He added: “Not since December 2011 have we seen the rate below 14.5% so it is cause for optimism.”

The survey also found that the percentage of units let out to indies increased by one percentage point to 68% for the first time since LDC began compiling its figures.

Hopkinson added: “What this reflects is the increasing importance of independent shops in populating our high streets as many multiples reduce stores or in the worst case close entirely.”

He continued: “Uncertainty as to how sustainable this positive change is abounds, but in many ways it reflects the fact that retailers are entering their most significant trading period which is the run up to Christmas.

“As ever Christmas trading is a key bellwether for the health of high street retailing and so I will hold judgement to the post Christmas fall out which will come in Q1 2013.”