According to the latest National Retail Barometer from Colliers International, retail sales were flat during 2012, with internet sales continuing to grow and threaten the high street. There are opportunities for strong retailers to take advantage of retail property that is back on the market following administrations.

Steve Burnaby, Director, Retail Agency at Colliers International said: “Christmas sales were relatively flat, and high street figures were buoyed by the online sales figures from multi-channel retailers. Some retailers, such as John Lewis, bucked this trend and reported good trading figures over the peak period.

“With figures largely underperforming compared to expectations, there is now a cautious outlook to 2013. The weak economy has put struggling retailers into administration, bringing many prime retail properties back on to the market. It has opened up opportunities for retailers with a healthier financial standing to take advantage and although few companies are expected to roll out large scale expansion programmes, many will optimise their store networks, which may release further stock in to the market.”

Key findings include:

  • The average UK void rates increased again, with 12 of the 15 locations sampled experiencing an increase over the six month period.
  • The proportion of vacant retail units across our sample was 16.3 per cent in October 2012, up from 13.5 per cent recorded in April 2012, and forming a new peak to the historical dataset.
  • The floorspace vacancy rate rose to 13.2 per cent in October 2012 from 10.6 per cent in April 2012.
  • The weak economy has put many struggling retailers into administration, bringing many prime retail properties back onto the market. Nevertheless, this has opened up opportunities for retailers with a healthier financial standing to take advantage.

The Barometer provides an overview of the current state of the retail market and assesses the extent to which these trends are impacting on the high street by using void units as a key indicator.