February’s monthly Dynamic Location Intelligence Bulletin (full version is available to all customers of LDC only) looks at retail location activity levels for January, including openings and closures numbers and vacancy rates across retail locations in GB.
Highlights from February's edition were:
Whilst store openings across the board were slightly down on December, January welcomed a healthy number of openings of new stores and a decreased number of closures, which lead to a positive net change. Comparison outlets continued a modest decline, but Convenience, Leisure and Service Retail outlets all saw growth, with Leisure experiencing the strongest growth of all.
Openings, closures and net change to store numbers Jan 16 - Jan 17. (Source: LDC)
Growth returned for multiples (brands with more than five stores) as more openings were recorded than closures in the first month of the New Year. The number of independent business continued to grow for the fifth month in a row as strength returns to this sector.
Shop numbers in retail parks, shopping centres and town centres all experienced an improvement in fortunes in January, with town centres recovering from a dip in numbers in 2016. Openings in retail parks continued on their upwards trend, although increasing at a slightly slower rate than previously.
Good news for the Retail vacancy rate as it continued to decrease to 12.1% - its lowest level since 2010. The Leisure vacancy rate also shrunk down to 8.1% in January, although this decrease goes against the longer term trend for rising Leisure vacancy rates.
Matthew Hopkinson, Director at LDC commented: “The January data shows some optimism for what is happening on Britain’s High Streets. Shop openings are subdued but stable, but the rate of shop closures is dropping. The result is an encouraging beginning to a reversal of the net loss of retailers that we saw in the middle of 2016.”
He added: “This is even evident in the long term trend of decreasing numbers of Comparison Goods (finished goods) shops, which although still experiencing a net loss has seen a significant improvement in this vital sign since the middle of last year. The mutually beneficial relationship of bricks and clicks is now clearly evident. One to watch is the Leisure market, which continues to open more outlets than the others combined, and recent news suggests that this bubble is certainly deflating and may yet burst in 2017.”
His final comment was: “The rebound in independent business occupying space in town centres has been impressive and has been gaining strength. The timing of this is fascinating as businesses are beginning to assess the impact of their new rateable values on the rates bills that they will have to pay from April. Will this suck some of the vitality from this sector, or will it continue to grow regardless?”