The recent feature by FM World concerning the declining demand for retail premises contrasted with the increased demand for industrial accommodation in the UK will come as no surprise to those operating in the commercial property sector.
Some of the larger retail park type units have trended towards adaption for fitness centre uses, whilst those towns with relatively good shopper spending power have seen continued loss of independent retailers and a growth in multiple café operator outlets and charity shops, the latter saving 80% on business rates which makes a huge difference to operating margins.
In some cases, rating assessments for retail premises on the 2017 List are well in excess of current market rental value and where such premises fall outside the 12,000 Rateable Value threshold for Small Businesses this does add to the challenge of attracting occupiers. It is possible to submit a Check and Challenge against such assessments, but the speed at which the Valuation Office Agency process these is slow and a recent article in the Times was highly critical of the new appeals system with 90% of users expressing dissatisfaction.
Meanwhile, agents such as ourselves are noting no shortage of retail lock-up shops being offered, whereas industrial stock is becoming much harder for occupiers to source.
Andrew Idle Associates offer a bespoke site finding service for industrial occupiers, and we also handle a range of retail premises to let. Assessing the rental at a realistic level is key to pulling in tenants without a lengthy void period.
It is important not to be unduly influenced by general trends as some locations are still very attractive for retailers and it is a case of each premises being treated on its own merits.