Empty UK shop numbers have risen to more than 22,450 - the equivalent of a vacant central London.

That was the finding of the latest monthly update from Local Data Company.

While vacancy levels have remained below the all-time high of 14.6% reached in August and September last year for six months, March saw rates edge upwards again.

In March average vacancy levels across the UK increased by 0.02% to 14.14% - the first increase in five months.

Vacancy rates have not been below 14% since July 2010.

LDC director Matthew Hopkinson said: "This along with the macroeconomic environment implies that for the time being this is the new norm unless we see significant negative churn from the 67% of units occupied by independents or more large chain failures.

"That said, it still means that we have over 22,456 empty shops in our top 650 town centres. The former is the equivalent of central London having every shop empty!"