The number of shops in the UK available to rent increases again
24 Aug, 2009, London
The rate of increase in the number of shops on UK high streets available to lease has halved in the three months to August according to the new Retail Availability report from real estate adviser Cushman & Wakefield.
On an average UK high street, 12.6% of prime shops are now vacant or available to lease, an increase of 0.4% on May’s figure. The previous increase on February’s figure was 0.8%. 3.3% of all shops available are as a result of retailer administrations but this figure has remained unchanged since May indicating that administrations are decreasing and that the majority of high street retailers likely to go under have already done so.
The overall UK figure, however, masks regional variations with the South West and Wales seeing an increase of 4.2% in three months. The region now has the joint highest availability in the UK with an average of 17.7% of high street shops vacant or available. Outer London has also seen a significant increase to 17.7% with towns such as Watford and Bromley performing particularly badly.
The South East and Central London have the lowest levels of availability at 7.6% and 8.9% respectively. The South East has performed particularly well with -2% fewer shops now available as expanding retailers have taken advantage of distressed situations to secure stores in prime towns such as Guildford and Brighton.
Central London has been least affected by administrations with less than 1% of units available for this reason. Super prime streets such as New & Old Bond Street and Sloane Street currently have the lowest availability in the UK at only 1.7% and 1.8% respectively. Regent Street also has low availability at only 2.6% although at the other end of the scale, 16% of units on High Street Kensington are available where the impact of Westfield London opening in October is still being felt.
John Strachan, head of retail services, Cushman & Wakefield, says: "The average availability of shops across the UK has risen by only 0.4% indicating that we may be at or approaching a peak in vacancies. Of the 12.6% vacant, 3.3% of these are stores previously occupied by retailers which have since gone into administration. This figure has remained the same since our previous survey in May and is further evidence that we have probably now seen most of the major high street administrations. Although the increase in availability in the regions is significant, Central London and the South East are now seeing a decrease and we therefore expect other regions will follow from 2010. The retail market remains very challenging but we are seeing rising sales and confidence that the country will return to economic growth before the end of the year."