New figures have revealed that applications to build retail sites have fallen by 9% in the past year.

Just 6,700 applications were filed in 2015/16, the seventh consecutive annual fall on record.

“Retailers can apply data to predict consumer behaviour and include factors that influence when customers will be in store”

Rupal Karia, managing director of retail & hospitality at Fujitsu

EMW, the commercial law firm that conducted the research, claimed the fall was down to the rising prevalence in online retailers.

“Retailers need to get smarter if they are to compete,” said Rupal Karia, managing director of retail & hospitality at Fujitsu.

“Technology can play a big part. Retailers can apply data to predict consumer behaviour and include factors such as weather and regional events that influence when customers will be in store. They can then predict and plan for these busy points and ensure the store is arranged in the best way.”

Meanwhile, research from the Local Data Company found that the number of vacant retail units being demolished was up by 43% in the year to June 2016.