Colliers International has published findings showing the retail locations in the North West which have seen the largest increase in vacancy rates coupled with a significant decrease in rental value.
These are the locations in the region most likely to benefit from lodging an appeal against their business rates, backdated to 2010, before the 31 March 2015 deadline.
The following centres are ranked by the highest percentage increases in retail vacancy rates between 2010 and 2014:
- Preston: 63.92%
- St Helens: 46.43%
- Wigan: 43.01%
- Bury: 42.96%
- Bolton: 41.5%
- Birkenhead: 33.14%
- Oldham: 25.82%
- Stockport: 22.58%
Adam Burke, head of rating for the North West at the Manchester office of Colliers International, said: "This research is compelling – it combines information from the Midsummer Retail Rental Report from Colliers International with data from Local Data Company.
"This isn't just a smoking gun – it's two smoking barrels of evidence that the Valuation Office, which sets the rateable value for non-domestic properties, should be happy acting on to reduce the rateable values of retail units in those worst affected centres in the North West of England."
The impact of the recession has been hardest felt outside London with higher vacancy levels and larger falls in rental values, with every region in the country impacted, with the exception of London.
According to the research, between 2008 and 2014, retail rents have fallen most in the following regions:
- Nationally by -14% or -22% excluding London
- Wales – 38%
- North East – 31%
- West Midlands – 26%
- South West -24%
- Eastern -21%
- East Midlands -19%
- North West -19%
- Yorkshire & Humber -19%
- South East -17%
- London rents have increased by 28%
- Outer London has seen rents flatten, but in real terms have declined if inflation is factored in
The Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement in December 2014 introduced a deadline of 31 March 2015 for appeals on business rates valuations. This deadline applies to all businesses liable for business rates, across all commercial property sectors.
The last rating revaluation was carried out in 2008, at the peak of the rental cycle, for the 2010 listing – which will last through until 2017 because of the deferral of the 2015 revaluation.
Colliers believes that the postponement of this revaluation, which means that retailers and other businesses continue to pay rates based on pre-recession property values, will "decimate those locations hardest hit, and could decimate the high street".
Businesses have six weeks left to appeal their business rates.