Shopping centre developments back on the rise

19th September 2016

Great news for retailers this week – as Retail Week reports that new shopping centre developments in the UK are going to hit a four-year high in 2017. Marking the biggest spike in development since 2013, the anticipated growth will see more than 2.7 million sq ft of floor space open for business next year.

Photo by Heamosoo Kim on Unsplash

Photo by Heamosoo Kim on Unsplash

These new figures come from a detailed Shopping Centre Development Report by commercial property agents Cushman and Wakefield, who confirm that this space is currently being developed or revamped in the UK and scheduled to open in 2017 – primarily driven by six specific new developments including the 580,000 sq ft Lexicon shopping centre in Bracknell, Berks. The report confirms that this will be the largest increase in shopping centre development in a single year since 2013 when the iconic Trinity Leeds mall opened for business.

Along with the six new large-scale developments described in the report, eight existing shopping centres will be getting refurbished or extended. These include Westgate in Oxford which will be getting an extra 488,600 sq ft and Westfield in London which is set to gain an additional 740,000 sq ft. During the first half of 2016, shopping centre redevelopments were scarce – but due to the success of certain stores, things are moving again and a total of 1.4 million sq ft of new retail space is due to open by the end of this year. As we previously reported on the blog, John Lewis has been going from strength to strength and two of the developments – Bond Street in Chelmsford, Essex and Victoria Gate in Leeds will both be centred around a John Lewis store, like the Mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol.

Speaking to Retail Week, the Head of Shopping Centre Development at Cushman and Wakefield, John Percy described 2016 as a ‘year of two halves’:

“After a quiet first six months, we will see schemes completing up and down the country and 2017 will be busier still.

“More than half of this new space consists of extensions to, or refurbishments of, existing centres, reflecting the additional risks and costs of establishing a new build project and taking it through the development process.”

Percy suggests that the rise in popularity of leisure in retail has also been a key factor in these new levels of growth. According to recent figures, almost a fifth of units in the UK’s top 30 shopping centres are leisure-focussed:

“Developers are devoting more space to leisure in new build schemes following the lead of successful schemes such as Grand Central Birmingham.

“This is an international as well as national trend, and we await some of the new leisure trends that are starting to emerge that will help drive the next generation of customer engagement.”

Justin Taylor, Head of Retail at Cushman and Wakefield suggests that despite the uncertainty surrounding the UKs recent decision to leave the European Union, prime retail space is still in demand and that the retail market is now looking far healthier than it has for a long time. This growth in shopping centre development is something we’ve experienced first hand at Barber where we have been directly involved in revamping the food court of a popular shopping centre in Weston-Super-Mare – check out the blog next week for more news on that development!