Casualties Drive Up Retail Park Vacancy Rate

April 17, 2013

Latest research from Trevor Wood Associates unveiled

Empty space on UK retail parks increased by its fastest rate for four years due to casualties in the retail sector, leading retail property research consultancy Trevor Wood Associates has revealed.

Trevor Wood Associates has published its 14th annual Definitive Guide to Retail & Leisure Parks which covers the out-of-town sector for 2012. Retail failures including Comet, JJB Sports and Peacocks helped raise the vacancy rate for UK retail warehousing to 9.9% at the end of 2012, up from 9.1% six months before. This is the fastest rise since 2008 and the highest vacancy rate since the middle of 2010.

These figures do not take into account announcements in the first three months of this year by retailers including HMV, Dreams and Blockbuster.

The North of England was the UK region with the highest vacancy rate, 13.7% at the end of 2012, up from 10.2% six months previously. Northern Ireland's vacancy rate rose to 12.7% from 9% over the same period, with Scotland rising to 11.9% from 10.4%. The only region to see its vacancy rate fall was East Anglia, dropping from 9% to 8.2% in the second half of 2012.

Despite the increase in the availability of second-hand space, Trevor Wood Associates also points out there have been retailers expanding to fill some of the voids. Value retailers including B&M, Dunelm, Family Bargains and Home Bargains have grown quickly alongside the likes of Kiddicare, Marks & Spencer, Oak Furnitureland and TK Maxx. These eight retailers have occupied an additional 2m sqft of retail warehouse space over the last 12 months.

TK Maxx also entered the UK's top ten retail park tenants by space occupied, with B&M and Sports Direct joining the top 20. B&Q remained top followed by Homebase and Currys.

The total amount of retail warehouse space grew 1.6% over the last year to 178.7m sq ft. Of the 1,506 schemes reviewed by Trevor Wood, 251 (or 16.7%) have development plans, which include demolishing, refurbishing or dividing units as well as building new space. This reflects the trend of managing existing schemes effectively rather than building afresh.

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