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The Great British High Street

The profile of the Great British High Street has changed beyond recognition in the last decade. For centuries high streets have formed the heart of our towns and communities; people are passionate about high streets, with than a third of consumer spending going through shops.  With the total value of retail sales reaching £339 billion in 2015, retail amounts to an important percentage of consumer spending. There are over 290,000 retail outlets in the UK; in fact 8% of all VAT registered businesses in the UK are retailers.  Between 2013 and 2020, the retail sector workforce is projected to grow by 54,800.

Marcus Kilby, President of the British Council of Shopping Centres, says

 “I see retailing as a dynamic force that is constantly reinventing itself. Retailers change with the fashions and trends of the customer. Side-by-side with that, retail property owners strive to keep up.

2008 marked the beginning of the end of the high street as we knew it with the collapse of Woolworths. The downfall of the much loved department store triggered the domino effect in which other big name retailers unfortunately followed suit – HMV and Comet to name a couple. However rather than these revelations forcing the demise of the high street, the collapse of these big name brands has actually fuelled a dramatic evolution according to research by Deloitte in 2015. The study has uncovered that in reality since 2009 one in five shops vacated by high-profile administration has been snapped up by a discount retailer. The report, which covers over five thousand stores across the UK, dispels the fear that our high street is in turmoil.

 “The results of this research are surprising and seem to challenge a number of myths around the state of the high street.
They would suggest that far from being dead, the high street appears to be showing great resilience and a capacity for reinvention. It seems that a structural shift is taking place with the high street emerging as an unexpected winner.”
Hugo Clark, director at Deloitte

Poundland has taken the largest share of vacant properties from occupiers that have fallen into administration, taking 113 stores in the last five years. In fact the seven of the ten most active high street retailers are actually discount retailers including B&M, Card Factory and 99p Stores. The second most active retailers are the major supermarkets as they endeavour to expand into convenience stores, taking a combined 262 stores: Iceland acquiring 75 and Morrisons buying 52 from the ruins of Jessops and Blockbuster. However this figure is rather dwarfed when put into perspective, Poundland has acquired more stores from administrators than Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons combined.

UK households have it the best in over a decade, with a combination of record low interest rates.  Deflation across non-discretionary items, high employment rates and increasing wages has boosted consumer confidence to an all-time high. Strong consumer spending power has allowed for the largest growth in consumer spending since 2007 during the credit filled boom.  Following a landmark year in consumer recovery, consumer spending is predicted to increase 2% in 2016.

Anderton Gables is an award winning property and construction consultancy firm specialising in commercial building surveying and dilapidations. Its team of property experts provide commercially aware technical advice to clients from a very broad area of market sectors.

Andrew Whittle, Director of Anderton Gables says:

“We remain optimistic that consumer confidence will remain strong, with the government’s announcement of the National Living Wage. The proportion of disposable income that households are saving is falling, indicating strengthening levels of consumer confidence. Retailers have been taking advantage of this and have achieved flourishing results as a consequence”

Anderton Gables strongly believe that 2016 provides many opportunities for retailers who are able to rise to the challenge of changing behaviours with creativity and a sound strategy to make this year a truly successful one.

Anderton Gables works with its clients to deliver cost-efficient and effective strategic property solutions, deploying its wealth of experience, valuable external perspective and innovative approach. It provides investors, owners and occupiers with expert technical advice throughout the property or investment life cycle and understands the challenges involved in the purchase, lease and vacation of commercial buildings.

Contact us here for commercial building surveying advice.