Trinity Leeds

Britain’s best-performing retail locations revealed

Leeds is the only city in northern England to be named among the top ten most resilient locations for retail, rising 16 places in the rankings.

Cushman & Wakefield’s “retail resilience index” analyses the performance of 250 town centres since the start of the financial crisis, based on 24 economic, demographic and retail property metrics.

Cambridge held its top spot from last year, and Edinburgh was the only city outside of England to feature in the top ten.

The report concluded that retail is driven increasingly by one of three “shopper missions”: large destination or experience-orientated visits, purpose shopping and community-based convenience trips. It found that retail locations not aligning with one of these will need to repurpose to remain relevant.

TOP 10 (2019) TOP 10 (2018)
Cambridge Cambridge
Bristol Guildford
Guildford Bath
Exeter Chichester
Oxford Oxford
Bath Kingston-upon-Thames
Edinburgh Exeter
Brighton Brighton
Leeds Bristol
Kingston-upon-Thames Winchester

Amy Gibson, senior research analyst and report author, said: ”In our view, the first step to understanding whether the UK’s town centres are fit for purpose is to understand what the new purpose is for each location. The retail and leisure landscape in the UK’s towns has become increasingly homogenous and in many cases not really kept pace with the changing demands of consumers.

”As we see a growing proportion of retail shifting online, there is a need to introduce alternative uses in town centres to help differentiate locations and ensure they remain aligned to the local catchment. Shops must adapt to this as well and provide what people want – not just an identical template of other locations.”

The bottom 10 locations were largely dominated by seaside towns, including Ramsgate, Dover and Bognor Regis.

241 Newport (Gwent) Small City
242 Berwick Upon Tweed Historic Town
243 Dover Seaside Town
244 Llanelli Seaside Town
245 Bognor Regis Seaside Town
246 Greenock Industrial Town
247 Gravesend Commuter Town
248 Kilmarnock Industrial Town
249 Ramsgate Seaside Town
250 Llandudno Seaside Town

The report also identified locations according to opportunities for growth – ranking them from “very high” to “very low”. Manchester and Exeter were the only two locations outside of the south-east to fall into the highest growth category.

Regionally, growth in northern England, Wales and Scotland is expected to be lower than southern England.

Plymouth, Hartlepool and Darlington were among the areas predicted to have the lowest growth.

The report also found no evidence of real rental growth in any of the 250 locations, with prime rents falling by 58% over the past 11 years. Compared with 2018, rent as a proportion of retailers’ spend has fallen from 12.8% to 10.2%.

Cushman & Wakefield consider around 69 locations within the index to be “overrented” – these are generally situated in Greater London and the south-east, where prime rents are higher.

Source: Drapers

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