ALMOST one quarter of shops in Belfast are lying vacant, while elsewhere in Northern Ireland the number of unused shop premises has also increased.
Northern Ireland has a significantly higher number of empty premises in comparison to the rest of the UK.
Nineteen per cent of the region’s retail units lie empty - the UK average is 11.4 per cent.
The new research was revealed yesterday by commercial property agency Lisney.
Craigavon remains the town/city with the lowest vacancy rate, but it has not escaped the wrath of the recession with a substantial hike from 3.6 per cent to 9.1 per cent.
However in Newry and Coleraine, the vacancy rate has almost doubled in the last year, from 9.7 per cent to 20 per cent and 11.2 per cent to 21.2 per cent respectively.