BRITAIN’S top shopping centres and high streets have the lowest vacancy rates for 10 years, according to a survey by property consultancy DTZ.
The survey said vacancy rates across these sites on average now stand at 2.55% against 3% a year ago.
Hugh Radford, head of UK retail at DTZ, said: “These figures may well come as a surprise to many commentators given the ongoing tough retail trading environment and uncertain global economic outlook.
“These figures do, however, only apply to the top 20 malls and high streets in the UK, which are rare, super-prime locations.”
The sites include the Trafford Centre at Manchester, Birmingham’s Bull Ring, Briggate in Leeds, Bluewater and Brent Cross.
The figures from DTZ Retail show that London in particular, buoyed by tourist spending and the resilience of consumers, continues to perform well despite the global economic recession.
Vacancy in Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street and Westfield, London, is effectively at 0%.
Mr Radford said one reason for the low vacancy rates in super-prime centres was the growing trend for international retailers to focus on these locations.
He said: “International retailers currently acquiring space in the UK, such as Forever 21, Hollister and Victoria’s Secret, are focusing on the top 10 or 20 locations before moving on to continental Europe and Asia.
“Previously, you could expect these retailers to choose between the top 25 or 30 locations but their focus has narrowed – a trend that we have long predicted.
“Consumers want to shop in fewer locations and be offered a full and broad range of products, rather than being offered a smaller range in more locations.
“We don’t see the number of locations that international retailers are targeting increasing in the medium term.”
DTZ said the picture for secondary retail sites was very different – with some locations faring well, but many others appearing to have gone “beyond the point of no return”.
Those sites would have to shrink to adapt to reduced current and future demand, the survey said, with other uses such as offices and housing taking the place of shops.