07 Apr 21 by Lesley Anderson
How’s it looking for the retail market in the south west? The market for empty shops in the South West’s well-heeled seaside towns is booming as businesses look to move out of London and profit from a potential “staycation” bonanza, a leading expert says. Zach Maiden, senior surveyor in our Exeter office, said demand for small retail premises is growing in “affluent” parts of Devon and Cornwall, as store bosses predict consumers will open their wallets post-lockdown.
At our recent Market Update, Zach gave an update on the retail market in the South West with his predictions for our High Streets.
Roadside units are also being eagerly sought too, potentially for restaurants and takeaways, and predicts a shift towards more unusual independent stores as “bland” chains struggle in towns and cities. Despite the move towards online shopping and the problems caused to the retail sector by repeated pandemic lockdowns, Zach is confident the high street will “evolve” and have a bright future.
Despite the doom and gloom the retail market in the region has slowly but steadily started to recover since the initial shock and uncertainty of the outbreak of the global pandemic.
“Naturally, there were signs of cracking in the lead-up but we are now seeing an acceleration of growth and activity in this market due to interesting opportunities that are presenting themselves.
“There is good demand for small retail units, especially 500-1,500sq ft in prominent positions in affluent towns, especially coastal in South Cornwall and Devon.
“In these coastal towns we are experiencing high demand for retail space due to a rising confidence and view that people will come out of the lockdown keen to spend their saved cash.”
Demand from road-side occupiers especially food and drink, is accelerating. Takeaway food outlets such as Papa Johns and Domino’s Pizza are actually continuing to take space, especially in this sector which has had a surge in activity over the various national lockdowns.”
He said some occupiers are concerned about staff and other costs, especially while shops remain closed, and that flexible leases with lengthy rent-free periods, are expected, though will reduce as the economy starts to recover.
But Zach predicted retail will “reposition and reinvent itself” and said: “There will be more leisure and mixed use in the high street and towns and cities will need to diversify.
“Regional towns will benefit from London fallout and retailers will be attracted by lower rents and better opportunities to take prominent space.
We will see an invigorated and thriving retail scene that will create an experience for consumers, certainly an opportunity for value-added propositions from regional investors.
“Staycations will promote regional towns and retail will recover well with more people choosing to holiday closer to home.”
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