Shop redevelopment increase set to “redefine” high street

shop redevelopment
// Redevelopment of retail units increases by 32% as bricks-and-mortar retail evolves
// Indicates growing trend for landlords to reconsider how existing retail is used to meet consumers’ needs
// The data, from the Local Data Company, comes amid marginal increase in store closure rate

The number of shops that have been structurally changed or redeveloped increased by 32 per cent in 2018, as landlords work to “redefine” bricks-and-mortar retailing.

A new report released by the Local Data Company (LDC) showed changes across over 650,000 retail and leisure units to provide a picture of the rate of change in UK retail last year.

The number of units being redeveloped increased from 2646 in 2016 to 2706 in 2017. From there, it jumped to 3577 in 2018.

The year-on-year increase suggests a trend for landlords to reconsider how existing retail units are utilised in way to cater to customers’ changing needs and behaviours.

The research comes amid a marginal year-on-year increase in store closures, with 50,828 shops closing in 2018 compared to 50,767 in 2017.

The rate of new store openings also decreased by almost 2000 over the year.

Meanwhile the average vacancy rate grew marginally by 0.3 percentage points in 2018 from 11.2 per cent to 11.5 per cent.

Last year saw a host of retailers face challenges, with Toys R Us, Maplin, Poundworld, Carpetright, New Look, Marks & Spencer and Multiyork all closing swathes of stores.

“2018 was another unprecedented year of change as the sustained challenges faced by many legacy brands collided with an advent of new concepts – these constantly shifting sands making conditions tougher than ever for most operators,” LDC head of retail Lucy Stainton said.

“However, any headline statistics by no means represents the full story and beneath some undeniably stark high-level numbers we can see a multitude of emerging trends and brands which hint at a very bright, diverse future for our high streets.”

She added: “The significant increase in structural redevelopment of retail space across 2018 indicates that landlords, place managers and councils are starting to take action to critically review how much retail stock is in the market and how much is actually required.

“Over the coming months, we expect this trend to increase, and with it will come a redefinition of not just our high streets, but shopping centres and retail parks too.”

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