New research suggests that the number of empty shops on British high streets has dropped significantly.

The average vacancy rate is not below 14% according to the Local Data Company, who monitor over 2,000 towns, shopping centres and retail parks. This is the lowest the rate has been for four years.

Despite the general decrease in vacant shops, there are still over 50,000 of them around the country. The rate saw a peak of 14.6% back in 2012, but dropped to 13.9% last December.

The report also shows that there is a growing divide between the North and South as some High Streets see themselves continue to decline.

In the North East, North West and East of England have all see in the number of empty shops increase over the last month, with the North West at a rate of 17%. This is over double the rate London is at.

The report also highlights the negative impact of retail parks and shopping centres. The High Streets and weaker towns surrounding 12 of the country’s biggest shopping centres all saw continuing decline. This is sure to raise concerns about the ability for High Streets to survive in the face of this kind of competition.