RTTNews - About 15% of High Street shops will be vacant by the end of 2009, the British Retail Consortium or BRC forecast Tuesday, more than double the 7% of stores emptied at the start of the year.

In some areas of the U.K., up to 40% of shop spaces are already empty amid the slump in consumer confidence.

In its 20-point plan to rejuvenate the ailing retail sector, the organization said the shopping atmosphere should be transformed to safe and public spaces need to be re-designed giving focus on heritage features to attract people.

A bright, post-recession future is possible for U.K. high streets but they need to be actively planned, managed and nurtured, the BRC said.

It is clear that in many places, recession is accelerating a trend of decline that was already underway.

BRC Director General Stephen Robertson said, High streets are the heart of local communities and economies - providing jobs and essential services.

Robertson said some of the High Street shops will flourish again as the economy recovers, while others have to shape a different future as customers' needs change. But that cannot be left to chance. These processes have to be actively managed by local authorities with their retailers, other businesses and residents, he said.

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