Retail and Leisure Park overview

Trevor Wood & Associates reveals The Definitive Guide to Retail & Leisure Parks 2022

After discussions with over one hundred of its database clients and subscribers, Trevor Wood Associates have again updated and extended their Definitive Guide to Retail & Leisure parks for 2022. The review compiles information on the UK’s retail and leisure park sector through supplied by owners, managers, tenants and agents, and desk research.

The report contains reviews and detailed listings not only of those schemes currently trading but also those proposed to open by 2029. Detailed listings for each scheme include location, scheme name, GIA, tenants, scheme type, nearby foodstores, other nearby developments, planning permission, owners / investment managers and letting agents.

For proposed schemes, the report is also show planning status, developer, and year open. Recent lettings are detailed alongside recent investment transactions, current and proposed developments together with numerous league tables and photographs.

The research identified 1,701 established schemes, that is to say they are trading or in the course of construction. These include 101 Leisure Parks, 144 Leisure schemes, 954 Retail Parks, 125 Shopping Parks, 42 Retail and Leisure Parks and 297 Retail Warehousing developments.

Vacancy Rates

Retail warehousing vacancy rates in the UK have started to fall, now at 7.8% at the end of 2021 according to the research. For comparison, at the end of 2017 the vacancy rate had fallen to an all-time low of 4.9% but had risen to 8.2% by the end of 2020

Liz Williamson of Trevor Wood Associates says that during the past year, the amount of new development within the market has slowed, which has helped minimise the impact of the demise of retailers such as Outfit, Arcadia and Gap and downsizing by Argos, John Lewis and others, and that this stall in development has caused the amount of available space at the end of 2021 to be less than at the end of 2020, with the Q4 2021 vacancy back to pre COVID levels.

“A significant proportion of retail warehouse space vacated over the years by failed retailers continues to be successfully re-let, while a sizeable number of units are under offer,” says Williamson, noting that these figures may be distorted due to the moratorium on rents which is about to expire, which they anticipate will have an impact on the Q2 2022 vacancy figures with struggling retailers no longer able to cling on. However, she adds, the early part of 2022 has shown progress with the Q1 2022 vacancy rate now at 7.3% which is lower than any time since 2018 and must be taken as a positive.

New Developments

A total of 42 schemes thought likely to proceed before the end of 2029, including four leisure schemes, three shopping parks and 24 retail parks. In addition, three proposed retail and leisure parks, six retail warehousing developments and two shopping and leisure centres are also featured within the review. Williams says these figures put the new development pipeline at ‘an all time low’.

Explaining the lack of development, she says: “The new parks that are being developed are able to be well let and the existing second-hand space is filling the gap for the expansion of the growing retailers already mentioned. Many older developments have disappeared from the market entirely, we have identified 64 existing retail schemes that have been repurposed in the last two years. New uses include student accommodation, industrial and residential led developments, whilst the demand for standalone grocery units continues.”

In terms of the most popular brands taking space at retail parks, of the 950 different tenants at retail and leisure parks across the UK, there are no new entrants to the leading out of town tenants rankings this year, whilst the continued rise of the household names of B&M, Home Bargains and The Range have helped to stabilise the market over the past few years.

The athleisure, discounters and food store expansion programmes dominate the stats of growing tenants throughout 2021, with B&M adding a further twelve shops, now having 279 out of town stores.

Retail park league tables

Middlebrook Retail and Leisure Park in Bolton is once again ranked the number one retail park in the UK, with Castlepoint in Bournemouth and Clifton Moor Centre in York coming in at second and third place respectively. Westwood Road in Broadstairs is ranked as the number one retail warehouse cluster and The O2 Entertainment District in Greenwich is ranked the number one leisure scheme.

B&Q, with 7.3 million sq ft, is still by far the largest retail park tenant, followed by B&M which saw an 8% year-on-year rise to 6.38 million sq ft. The largest decrease in space was recorded by Argos as it continues to reposition in the market creating joint stores alongside Sainsbury’s.

Savills is the once leading retail warehousing letting agent, with instructions totalling over 25.5 million sq ft while Curson Sowerby Partners, Avison Young and Morgan Williams occupy the next three spots. Top managing agent is also Savills – managing almost 34 million sq ft which is almost double the amount of retail floorspace of their nearest competitor, Workman.

Columbia Threadneedle Investments saw significant increases to their portfolio this year, overtaking both abrdn and British Land who have been the dominant players in the market for the past 10 years, to be the leading investment manager in the UK. British Land remain the leading investment manager of retail parks in the UK, as well as the number one direct property owner for both retail parks and retail warehousing.

Trevor Wood & Associates recently announced that it will be adding an online platform for its definitive guides later year. Trevor Wood explains: “Over the last 35 years we have deservedly built up an unrivalled reputation for the breadth and quality of our data and with the new online features available in the Definitive Guide, including mapping functionality and access to our national analyses, our clients will get chapter and verse with just a click.

He adds: “My colleagues at Trevor Wood Associates and I welcome any comments you may have that could help to make the future reviews even better and we look forward to receiving periodic updates regarding any changes that may take place.”

This was first published in Retail Destination Fortnightly. Click here to subscribe.

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