Vacant in shops

For a visualisation, in the UK (and IE) you can use this map** - that shows the various ways that people people map vacant shops as “(vacant)”.

** Full disclosure - that’s a map I created. The logic for the vacant shop processing is here.

What about disused:shop, (which is also a little more)? Isn’t it better to use Lifecycle_prefix, which normally hides the shop on the map? :thinking:

But as I know OSM: There are many roads to Rome… :wink:


Some interesting forum discussions on this topic

Bäckerei dauerhaft geschlossen - löschen?
Shop korrekt taggen - #5 by Thoschi
Kleine Fragen 2019 - #324 by Geofreund1
Kleine Fragen - #2136 by gormo

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Put some of the Vacant Shops on there already so to analyse and visualise data. Its a bit of showing to people what is happeneing in the aria with some statistics

There’s a slight difference in meaning between shop=vacant and disused:shop=*, and both can be used in combination:

  • shop=vacant means the storefront is currently vacant.
  • disused:shop=* means whatever used to be in the storefront is no longer there, but whether the storefront is currently vacant is less clear.

Around me, many storefronts are built years before the first shop occupies them. The shop is no longer under construction; it remains vacant but has not fallen into disuse. shop=vacant is the only tag that can be used in this situation.

When a shop moves from one neighborhood to another, I immediately retag the former location as disused:shop=*, but I don’t feel confident tagging it as shop=vacant until I’ve surveyed the site to make sure some other shop hasn’t moved in already.

Often a disused:shop=* lingers even after a new shop arrives and is tagged in shop=*. Technically, was:shop=* would be more precise for this situation.


For a quick visualisation, I would go to Overpass Turbo and look for all objects with addr:street=High Street or whatever the street name is, and an amenity= or shop= tag that isn’t shop=vacant.

Then look for all objects that have addr:street=High Street and either disused:amenity=, disused:shop= or shop=vacant.

You can use MapCSS to style the results e.g. make the nodes for active shops blue and the vacant ones red.

If you want to do this for all of Newbury Wharf (the landuse=retail area), instead of just one street, you’ll have to use a spatial query. I am sure this is possible with Overpass though I don’t know how.

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This difference seems a bit precise and not one I’ve heard of before. I would be surprised if people are consistently using them like that.

Also, to me, a newly constructed shop that has not yet got an occupier (i.e is “not in use”) is still a disused shop. Something can be built, never used, and remain in a state of disuse.


Interesting, “disused” is already quite rare in my dialect compared to “fallen into disuse”, but I’ve never heard anyone treat “disused” and “unused” as synonyms.

Unused can definitely mean “never been used before (still new)”, and disused can definitely mean “no longer in use (previously used)”. In these two contexts they are not synonyms. But both words can also mean “not currently in use”. In this case they are synonyms. English is a crazy language :upside_down_face:.


Exactly, which is why I think tagging never-before-used features as disused is misleading and too literal a reading of the disused wiki page. After all, it says “no longer” half a dozen times, just to hammer home the point.


I opened Talk:Key:disused:* - OpenStreetMap Wiki


The idea of changing it to blue and red sounds like a great idea. How do I put on the MapCSS?

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Have a look at the examples here, under colour coding:

And let us know if you manage to do it, would be interesting to compare how different city centres look!

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Given that any mapper using shop=vacant at all is breaking the definition of shop=* (“A place selling retail products or services”), I see no reason to assume that they would consistently follow such a subtle distinction.


To you, a newly constructed shop is nothing currently (no main tag), but some time ago (probably while it was under construction) it was fully functional and operational shop (disused:shop=yes, which would’ve been shop=yes at that time). Is that correct?

A couple of very quick overpass queries:

I am very interested :thinking: in your opinion on this topic:

Which approach do you prefer?
  • shop=vacant
  • disused:shop=*
  • both tags together
0 voters

( :exclamation: My first poll - if anything is wrong, please forgive…)

edit: 1. mistake = 2 options > please use only one, sorry :woozy_face:

(not an option in the poll, so I’ll comment here):

  • Whichever option is the better fit for the particular shop.

If it’s a convenience store that has closed but is going to reopen as another convenience store, then disused:shop=convenience.

If the previous tenant has left and another (of unknown type) has not moved in yet, shop=vacant.

However, it’s really not that important. With a data consumer hat on, I treat both the same.


Right, I wouldn’t expect data consumers to treat the two tags any differently. The distinction matters more to me as a mapper. I don’t think this poll would cause me to abandon one tag or the other.

My city’s retail spaces have a lot of turnover. Often I’m unable to detect that a shop has closed or moved until months later, by noticing that they failed to renew their website domain or stopped posting to their Facebook page at some point. By this point, the shop very well could be occupied by another tenant. If I know who replaced them, I can simply retag the storefront with the new tenant’s details. But otherwise, I would move the shop=* tag to disused:shop=*, and only tag it as shop=vacant once I swing by and see that it still has a “FOR LEASE” sign in the window.

I do quite a bit of armchair mapping of other places using street-level imagery. The imagery is usually years old, from before the pandemic wiped out so many businesses, so I have to verify that each shop still exists before mapping it. Often the shop turns out to be long gone, but I have no way of determining what, if anything, has replaced it. I map it in the first place as disused:shop=*. On the other hand, if there’s already a “FOR LEASE” sign in this imagery, I use shop=vacant. After all, in this case, I have no idea what the shop used to be.

I always go for disused:shop= since I feel like any value of shop= should represent a type of currently operating shop. Vacant means the absence of an operating shop, so using a different key feels appropriate to me. That said, unless a data consumer is looking for all active shops by matching shop=* and not excluding shop=vacant, the difference shouldn’t matter too much.


True, the fact that shop=vacant is under shop=* is awkward. But it’s still an answer to the question “What is it?”, whereas disused:shop=* would be an answer to the question, “What has it been?” Both are valid questions to ask.

As with other old trollish tags like building=construction, shop=vacant is already well-established, so at this point it would be more disruptive to rename it to something more descriptive like amenity=shopfront occupied=no. Maybe not disruptive to renderers that want to hide vacant shops entirely, but certainly vacant to geocoders that have been returning vacant shops without issue.

(For anyone wondering, “shopfront” or “storefront” technically means just the façade, but it almost always refers to the whole retail space by metonymy. Again, weird English.)