Competition for prime high street locations is healthy in most of the region’s key cities with prime high street rents remaining firm, particularly in Western Europe. Notably, prime high street retail rents in Madrid, Milan and Rome saw increases of 3%, 3% and 8% respectively - in spite of grim economic talk surrounding the wider Italian and Spanish Economies. Retailers continue to show strong interest in taking retail space in the most notable high streets in Western Europe, with these locations maintaining their footfall and retail spending in contrast to their wider “host” economies. The Via Condotti in Rome saw the highest increase in rents in Western Europe at 8%. A chronic lack of available space and continuing interest from luxury retailers, such as Italian fashion house Trussardi 1911 who opened their first boutique on the street in March, contributed to the increase.

In many of the major retail centres of Central and Eastern Europe, prime rents have fallen back in the past six months, with landlords offering lower rents in order to attract international brands with longer-term value creation in mind. The same is true of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, both cities having seen prime high street rents fall 11% over the period, with tenants currently in the driving seat in these markets.

The outlook for retail sales across EMEA looking forward is deeply unclear. Despite the economies of Europe continuing to record positive economic growth – the two largest economies, France and Germany, recorded GDP growth of 1% and 1.5% respectively in Q1

2011 – retail sales continue to be impacted by the wider macroeconomic uncertainty hanging over the region, and the erosion of real spending power by stagnant wage growth and rising prices. In the EU-27, overall retail sales fell marginally in March, and were down 1% on the same period in 2010.   

The outlook for retail sales in the UAE is somewhat more optimistic, with the economy still growing and spending expected to continue to climb in the coming years, in spite of some of the real estate debt issues in Dubai. International brands are continuing to view the market as a target for future expansion.