Nearly12,000 independent shops and 7,000 branches of major chains have closed so far this year in England and Wales, leaving thousands of people jobless, a survey has found.
The Local Data Company (LDC) identified Margate in Kent as the worst-hit town, with an average retail vacancy rate of 25%. Cities in the north of England, such as Leeds and Liverpool, also have rates of more than 20%.
The collapse of retailer Woolworths has had a major impact on high streets, with about 70% of its 800-plus shops still lying empty, LDC added in the report on the BBC website.
Northern England and the Midlands generally fared the worst, according to the report.