Merseyway shopping centre Stockport

Fall in prime retail rents puts region in spotlight

Simon Donohue

The North West of England is the worst performing region in the UK for town centre prime retail rents, according to the GB Retail Paper from Colliers International.

In the past year, the research identified that 25 out of 39 town centres in the North West suffered lower retail rents, representing 64% of such centres in the region.

The highest fall in rent was in Stockport, where the price fell from £135/sq ft to £100/sq ft. Other fallers were Chorley: down from £55/sq ft to £45/sq ft; Oldham: down from £80/sq ft to £70/sq ft; Workington: down from £50/sq ft to £40/sq ft.

Rents in Blackpool increased from £90/sq ft to £100/sq ft; while rents in Chester increased from £200/sq ft £205/sq ft.

Average prime retail rent in the region fell by 5.5% to £88/sq ft over the past year following a 4.5% decline in 2012. While the North West performed worst, no region outside of London enjoyed positive rental growth.

Matthew Thompson, senior retail research analyst at Colliers International, said Stockport was just one of several towns suffering from rival and much larger and diverse retail offerings in the major nearby cities of Manchester and Liverpool and the Trafford Centre.

He said Stockport Exchange development to provide a 120-bed hotel, 50,000 sq ft of office space and public realm could only help to revitalise the town centre.

He said: "Although each town featured on our worst performing list will have its own location specific set of issues regarding falling rents and growing vacancy rates, it is clear that a few common themes run through the retail geographies of each area.

"The growth of out of town and large scale regional developments over recent years is meeting the demands of both the consumer and the retailer regarding an improved shopping experience, which encompasses parking, mix of retail and leisure, unit size and product range.

"Furthermore, the significant growth in online shopping is having a profound effect on retailer property strategy, with many of the towns in our worst performing list losing high street stores in favour of stronger in-town and out of town centres."

Thompson said many towns in the UK still have an oversupply of retail space and with the online market not expected to mature until the 2020s, there will be continuing pressure on UK towns that fail to reposition themselves.

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