The fortunes of prime sites and secondary locations are increasingly polarised, according to the latest Midsummer Retail Report by agent Colliers International.
The report examines trends and statistics from 420 locations nationally. Colliers said that prime rents at destinations such as the Trafford Centre and Wilmslow rose by 6%, outperforming by a distance the British average increase of 1.6% including London and 0.8% excluding the capital.
Prime rents at the Trafford Centre have reached £425 per sq ft, the first time that rents there have passed £400 per sq ft since 2010, giving the centre the highest prime rent in the region.
Colliers reported solid performances from Manchester and Liverpool city centres, with vacancy rates falling in both. But Ellesmere Port, Crewe and St Helens each suffered double digit declines in rental levels, of 22%, 11% and 15% respectively.
Retail rents in the North West overall declined slightly, by 1%, with an average Zone A rental figure of £86/sq ft.
The report said the North West had its “fair share of challenging BHS stores to deal with” following the department store’s 2016 demise, and suggested that the size of the sites coming to market might lend themselves to alternative uses where towns are over-supplied with shops.
Of the retail pipeline, Colliers pointed to the second storey being added at the Barton Square courtyard at the Trafford Centre, and a spate of retail warehouse schemes, the most significant of four exceeding 100,000 sq ft coming to the region being Edge Lane Retail Park in Liverpool. This will provide 110,000 sq ft of space during phase one this year and a total of 450,000 to 500,000 sq ft on completion.
Lloyd Entwistle, director, retail agency at Colliers International, said: “Our latest Midsummer Retail Report shows how the split between the best and the rest is continuing to widen with increasing polarisation at each end of the quality scale.
“It’s clear from our research that new demand is focused on the very best locations and that this continues to drive competition for space and the flight to prime by both retailers and consumers.”