High Street Showing 'Resilience'

New Report Has Found High Streets In The UK Are Performing Well


Fergal Dowling, Partner | +44 (0)121 214 5476

New research from consultancy Deloitte has found that the UK's high streets are performing better than expected.

Just 20 per cent of shops in town centres affected by 27 major administrations since 2009 are still vacant, showing that small businesses are picking up the slack from their larger corporate counterparts.

The recession saw a number of large chains, including Woolworths and Comet, go bankrupt amid falling consumer demand. But despite this, according to Deloitte, SMEs have performed better than expected.

A new report has found that high streets are performing substantially better than retail parks, with the former sustaining a 29 per cent vacancy rate and the latter struggling at 37 per cent.

Convenience stores are one of the main reasons for this above average performance, with these types of retail units accounting for nearly 12 per cent of all occupations post-recession.

Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte, said: "Historically, retailers have talked about 'destination' shopping locations.

"However, different and more cautious consumer spending patterns have joined forces with a technology-powered convenience culture which demands that goods and services are available as and where the consumer demands."

"It is likely that the rate of expansion by bookmakers may not be as aggressive as widely believed, with new openings often offset by closures."

However, the success of high streets across the UK depends massively on which region the retail hub is located in.

Greater London has a low vacancy rate of 18 per cent, while Scotland performs much worse with an average occupancy of just 63 per cent.

Hugo Clark, director at Deloitte and author of the report, said the report shows many of the people who thought high streets had fallen victim to the recession have been proven wrong.

The executive said that a structural shift is taking place across the UK economy and more consumers than expected are using high streets for their retail needs, often to preview products before they buy them online.

Expert Opinion
This research is welcome news for SMEs in the retail sector and demonstrates that, despite concerns in the past, the high street remains an attractive location which consumers continue to place trust in.

"Small firms would be wise to carefully research whether they would benefit from a high street presence and should also consider whether they may benefit from twinning such an approach with an online presence.

"Regardless of where SMEs see their future lying, they should always ensure they have access to quality legal advice to support them – whether it is on issues including taking up commercial property space or ensuring consumer and client data is protected on online platforms."
Fergal Dowling, Partner