Cumbrian market towns are among the best performing retail centres throughout the North West, according to the latest Midsummer Retail Report by Colliers International.
The research showed retail rents in Cumbria rising by as much as 17% between 2014 and 2015 as retailers benefit from a rise in consumer spending, buoyed by the economic recovery and a lack of new retail development increasing competition for the local pound.
Rising rents in Cumbria contrasted those in some retail centres closer to the M6/M62 corridor where an oversupply of local shops and the impact of business rates based on pre-recession property values harmed retailers and rental levels.
Colliers International identified Crewe in Cheshire as the worst performing centre with retail rents in the town declining by 10% over the past year.
Other poorly performing locations in the North West included St Helens, Oldham and Birkenhead where retail rents fell by seven per cent in each.
Among the Cumbrian towns reporting a rise in retail rents in the past year were Whitehaven and Workington, while St Annes-on-Sea on the Fylde coast in Lancashire also saw an improved performance.
The centres with the highest retail rents remained the regional shopping capitals of Manchester and Liverpool where prime city centre rents were unchanged at £250/sq ft and £265/sq ft respectively.
The report showed that the average retail rent per sq ft at centres throughout the North West remained at £81/sq ft between 2014 and 2015.
The North West outperformed the rest of Great Britain excluding London as levels nationwide slipped by 0.3% to an average of £78/sq ft but the inclusion of the capital in data compiled for the report boosted average rental levels by 3% year on year to £89/sq ft.
Colliers International’s analysis of 421 shopping pitches throughout the United Kingdom said retail rents nationwide were expected to rise by 1.4% in 2015, a slight increase on 2014.
The research also showed an increasing level of foreign investment in UK retail property, with cheap debt finance expected to facilitate more than £5bn of acquisitions by overseas investors by the end of 2015, up from a total of £4.6bn in 2014.
David Fox, head of retail agency north at Colliers International, said: “It’s pleasing to see certain Cumbrian market towns holding up well since the financial crisis and benefiting from increased spending by consumers on the back of growth in wages and confidence gained from the wider economic recovery.
“However, retail rents continue to suffer from downward pressure in some centres closer to the M6/M62 corridor where there is evidence of an oversupply of retail premises and the negative effect of business rates. The Government’s revaluation of business rates in 2017 could prove to be the most positive catalyst for rental change in the form of reduced business rate liabilities since the start of the financial crisis in 2008.”