Out of town retail market shows signs of resilience

Big box retail continues to perform despite lockdown

Research from international real estate advisor Savills has found that in spite of widespread retail and leisure closures as a result of the UK lockdown, the out of town market is displaying some levels of resilience with a quarter of all UK retail floorspace still remaining open via the out of town market.

Savills estimated that in the week following the beginning of the lockdown restrictions, 73 per cent of all retail and leisure operators were classified as ‘non-essential’ with only 27 per cent of the market being eligible to stay open. However, of the retail floor space that was eligible to stay open, the out of town market accounted for more than half at 54 per cent, in comparison with the high street, shopping centres and individual shops. 

As much as 61 per cent of the floor space in the retail warehousing market was designated as essential due to large supermarkets and DIY stores accounting for a significant proportion of the sector. In comparison, high streets have seen just 37 per cent of the floor space considered essential, with shopping centres seeing only 25 per cent.

Dominic Rodbourne, head of out of town retail at Savills, comments: “The closure of all but essential retailers is one of the biggest changes to UK retail in living memory and there’s no denying the impact it is having on the country’s retail and leisure economy.

“We expect retailers to prioritise opening their stores on retail parks over those in other locations as the open air environment and expansive car parks make them easier to operate the necessary measures.”

Sam Arrowsmith, associate director in the Savills research team, adds: “With only 27 per cent of the entire retail market classified as essential and therefore able to remain open, the figures certainly look concerning, but when breaking the figures down we can see some signs of resilience in the out of town market.

“With over half of all essential retail floor space being in the sector, and the larger size of retail parks making social distancing easier to adhere to, we may see shopping habits in this area of the market return to normality slightly earlier.”

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