That’s according to the latest UK retail breakdown from Colliers International which placed Cirencester sixth in a nationwide league table of best performing retail locations.
Outside of London, the only other centres to make the Top 10 were Skegness and Lincoln. Colliers International’s Autumn/Winter retail market overview underlines the increasing gulf between best and worst performing centres. In Cirencester, prime rents were up 23 per cent on last year. Rents in Chippenham rose 10 per cent and 2.9 per cent in Cheltenham.
Colliers International Head of Retail Nick Turk said the Cotswolds continued to set the pace as a high quality and high growth location.
“The outstanding success of the area’s retail attractions goes hand in hand with a particularly resilient Cotswolds hospitality sector. It’s remarkable to think the rise in prime rents in Cirencester has kept pace with the major London locations as they have left most of the rest of the UK standing.”
The high powered survey revealed that positive retail sales growth had been reported every month so far in 2013 with the exception of April. This had helped stabilise rental levels across the UK. Colliers International compares prime rent yields across 421 centres around the country and found that more centres had achieved increasing or stable rents than had seen further decline.
Nick Turk said: “The UK economy is gathering pace and rising consumer confidence coupled with the summer heat wave allowed retailers to capitalise on strong footfall.”
Regionally, the South West finished mid-table with average prime rents of £81. Selected centres had enjoyed higher prime rents, with Bath notably leading the pack at £190 per sq ft. At the other end of the scale five South West towns witnessed declines of between 13 and 21 per cent.
Yeovil and Bournemouth saw prime rental levels fall 21 and 20 per cent respectively, followed by Taunton which dropped 17 per cent. The popular resorts of Newquay and Weston-super-Mare saw declines of 16.7 and 13.3 per cent. Bucking the South West trend, Dorchester was up 14.3 per cent. The Colliers International report revealed that Newport was the worst performing location with prime rents dropping by 31 per cent to £55psf.
NickTurk said poorly performing towns faced a number of common problems.
“The growth of out of town and large scale regional developments over recent years is meeting the demands of both the consumer and the retailer regarding an improved shopping experience, which encompasses parking, mix of retail and leisure, unit size and product range.
“Furthermore, the significant growth in online shopping is having a profound effect on retailer property strategy, with many of the towns in our worst performing list losing high street stores in favour of stronger in-town and out of town centres.
“These factors are particularly prevalent in Newport where the local road network allows its immediate population to reach Cardiff (St. Davids Centre) or Bristol (Cribbs Causeway), both within a 30 minute drive.”
Despite these local setbacks , Nick Turk said the report revealed an unusually upbeat picture for UK retailing.
He said: “A key driving force behind a sustained economic recovery is consumer confidence, which has improved throughout 2013 and this is reflected in increasing demand for vacant shop units – especially in the best performing towns which are either affluent or enjoyable to shop in. If the high street is interesting, with a good range of national and independent retailers, it will attract shoppers away from formulaic retail parks.
“Retail continues to undergo significant structural change in the wake of the economic climate of the last five years and as online retail continues to grow its share of overall retail spend. Those retailers that make clicks work for their bricks and have a fully integrated property and on-line offer, will create loyalty and drive profits.
“However, retailer casualties will continue to come from those retailers who do not address the pull of the internet and do not provide something extra that the internet cannot provide – an experience and great service - good prices are taken for granted!”