In these austere times lots of retailers are feeling the squeeze, but according to a new report, the cheep-and-cheerful brigade are spearheading the out-of-town expansion drive, taking the vast majority of new space in retail parks over the last 12 months. Trevor Wood Associates’ ‘Definitive Guide to Retail & Leisure Parks 2012’ found that Home Bargains, B & M, The Range, and Poundworld took over 1m sq ft of space out of town between them during 2011.
Landlords will be pleased that they’re snapping up all this space: they have seen vacancy rates on parks with open A1 planning permission (which can be occupied by any type of retailer) dropped from 7.9% in 2010 to 6.8% in 2011. Not bad in such hard times.
It’s not all good news though, as out-of-town space that can only be occupied by retailers stocking bulky goods (who knew there was even a rule about that?) has seen vacancy rates climb slightly, from 10% in 2010 to 10.8% in 2011. Furthermore, downsizing and closure of some retailers actually increased the amount of second-hand floor space available in ‘administration season’ mid-2011.
When the likes of Jane Norman, Habitat, TJ Hughes and Focus DIY found themselves in the doldrums in May and June 2011, there was certainly a sense that the high street retail sector was in trouble.
But with tighter purse strings and dodgy job security, the general public are as hungry for a bargain as they’ve ever been. For value retailers, that’s great news, and many of them have extensive expansion plans in full swing. What this out-of-town move will mean for local high streets up and down the country is hard to call…