A new study has revealed that Bradford is the second worst city in the country for boarded-up shops, although regeneration chiefs insist the situation is improving.

A report by the Local Data Company, published today at a retail summit hosted by the British Property Federation, shows that 22.5 per cent of shop units in Bradford were vacant at the end of 2009.

Wolverhampton, which has a 23.9 per cent vacancy rate, is the only city in the UK with a higher percentage of empty shops.

The new study comes only a fortnight after Bradford Council released its own statistics showing that 14 per cent of shops in Bradford city centre were vacant in late 2009.

Councillor Adrian Naylor, the Council’s executive member for regeneration, said: “It’s not clear how broadly they (Local Data Company) have done their survey in terms of whether they have taken into account the outlying areas as well as the immediate city centre.

“If we are looking at the city centre, then the indications are quite positive. Studies by our city centre team show that, up to September 2008, we had 55 empty units, which went up to 69 in March 2009, but then came down again by late 2009. We are seeing a reduction from the peak.

“However, until confidence returns to the retail sector for people to open or expand businesses, we are going to be in a similar situation because people have still got to borrow money from the banks and pay business rates.”

Val Summerscales, of Bradford Chamber of Trade, said: “The number of empty units in Bradford does fluctuate from month to month.

“I’m concerned that we are the worst in Yorkshire but, hopefully, the interim measures on the Broadway site will put a bit more positivity back into Bradford.”

Meanwhile, the latest report shows that Keighley is the seventh worst place in Yorkshire for empty shops, with 8.3 per cent of units standing empty, while Skipton has a five per cent vacancy rate.

Across the UK as a whole, vacancies have continued to increase over the last two quarters, although at a lesser rate than before.

According to data collected between July and December 2009, 12.4 per cent of shops stand empty across Great Britain.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “The fact of the matter is that Brits now do a lot more shopping over the web, so we’re seeing a fundamental re-shaping of high streets.

“The next Government will need to balance cuts in spending with ideas for reinvigorating regions that have suffered from years of under-investment.”