UK shopping centres to open an additional 1.5 million sq ft in 2018

Although the retail sector faces a number of challenges, such as an uncertain consumer backdrop, rising operational costs and the ongoing growth of e-commerce, that has yet to stop UK retailers and property developments from investing in traditional brick and mortar locations as the UK is set to welcome 1.5 million square feet of additional shopping centre floor space throughout 2018.

Most of the additional retail space set to open in 2018 stems from extensions to existing schemes, such as the Westfield London extension, Intu’s Watford extension, and the Intu Lakeside extension, according to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield. The shopping centre expansion push comes as high streets across the country continue to struggle to attract shoppers, as property developers invest in creating retail and leisure attractions within some of the UK’s largest shopping centres.

UK shopping centres to open an additional 1.5 million sq ft in 2018

UK shopping centres continue to thrive in 2018, opening 1.5 million square feet of new retail space

Last year saw an additional 1.3 million square feet of retail space opening, which is significantly less than the long-term average annual rate. However, 2017 did see the opening of two major new retail schemes in the UK, Westgate Oxford, and Lexicon Bracknell, added the Cushman & Wakefield report. Extensions to Westfield London, Intu Watford, and Intu Lakeside are scheduled to complete this year, while the long-awaited extension at Brent Cross is set to begin, along with the redevelopment of Intu Broadmarsh in Nottingham during the first half of the year.

New retail developments are set to be driven by leisure experiences in the future, as landlords seek out new ways to entice shoppers to their developments, noted the report. Key examples include Kidzania, an indoor area for children at Westfield London, Junk Yard crazy golf at Westgate Oxford and a potential trampoline park and climbing wall at Festival Place, Basingstoke. “Leisure is a current focus but we expect much more varied mix of uses being part of all development and this will be critical to creating successful places,” commented John Percy, Head of Retail Development Consultancy at Cushman & Wakefield.

“Landlords are quickly adapting to market trends and engaging with an increasing number of ‘experience’ led operators in order to entice shoppers offline and into their developments. Activity at some of the UK’s best-known shopping centres, including Westfield London, Brent Cross and Intu Lakeside make this an extremely interesting year in development terms.” Other shopping centre trends highlighted in the report include flexible leasing, more involvement from the local authorities to boost investment and the merging of public spaces to create new combinations of retail and leisure alongside residential and office spaces.

“There are a number of exciting shopping centre developments planned for 2018, almost all of which involve extensions or refurbishments of existing schemes,” added Amy Gibson, Senior Research Analyst at Cushman & Wakefield. “This is an indication of the continued commitment from landlords to evolve schemes in line with global trends.”

Photo: Courtesy of Westfield


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