Retail availability falls below 10% for first time in 18 months (UK)

Research carried out by Cushman & Wakefield shows that the average availability of retail units across Great Britain's top streets was 9.8% at August 1, 2010, down from 11.1% in May. This figure is the lowest level of retail availability recorded in the last 18 months.

Chart 1

Chart 1: Availability of retail units August 2009-2010

This figure includes the stores of a number of retailers that are in administration, some 1.4% of the total number of shops surveyed. The analysis covers the main retail thoroughfares of the top town and city centers (excluding out-of-town regional shopping centers, factory outlet centers or retail parks).

While retailers remain cautious there has been a marginal improvement in retail market sentiment over the past six months which appears to have filtered through to retail availability levels. Stronger operators are capitalizing on previous failures and expanding their market share. Availability as a consequence of administration remains a diminishing factor and continues to decline.

Overall availability has fallen by 1.3% over the last three months from May 2010. The number of retail units available within the key retail areas as a consequence of administration has also decreased marginally by 0.21%. Compared with a year ago (Chart 1), the overall level of availability within the main areas has fallen (from 12.6% in 2009 to 9.8% currently).

Chart 2

Chart 2: Availability of retail units by region (August 1, 2010)

While trading conditions will remain tough for many retailers in latter part of 2010 and into 2011, the worst of the retailer 'shake out' appears to be over and the number of stores available due to administration compared with this time last year is significantly down (from 3.3% in August 2009 to 1.4% currently).

The prime areas of a sample of key towns across all regions of Great Britain have been examined in detail to gain a clearer picture of the level of retail availability (Chart 2). The lowest levels of availability (including those units in administration) as at 1 August 2010 in the main retail areas are currently in Central London (5.1%) and the North (7.7%). Outer London has the highest level of availability (17.4%), followed by the Midlands (12.1%) and Scotland (11.0%).

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