Shopping league

Glasgow holds retail rank while St James boosts capital

Glasgow remains a prime retail location

Glasgow city centre has held on to its position as the UK’s second highest ranking commercial venue, despite recent setbacks.

In a newly-published league of 9,000 retail and leisure markets nationwide, Edinburgh has entered the top ten following the opening of the St James Quarter.

Colliers’ inaugural LocateVenues rankings report, which monitors the retail and leisure offering at commercial venues across the UK, considers venue type, brand presence and strength, vacancy and refurbishment rates, floorspace availability, price positioning (value vs luxury) and category mix. 

Manchester scooped the number one spot with the largest range of retail and leisure offering across the UK, in one shoppable location. Glasgow came in second place followed by Leeds – Central, Birmingham – Central, and Liverpool – Central. 

Edinburgh entered the top 10 this year, rising four places against the 2019 data, following the opening of St James’ Quarter which significantly enhanced the city’s retail and leisure offering.

St James Quarter interior
Edinburgh’s St James has boosted the city’s retail ranking (pic: Terry Murden)

Ross Wilkie in the Retail team at Colliers Scotland, commented: “It’s no surprise to see Edinburgh’s rank improve as whilst it lost its international tourist draw during the pandemic, it did benefit from the increased popularity of staycations in the UK.

“The recent opening of the St James Quarter has significantly improved the retail and leisure offering in the city which had suffered for years as a consequence of having no dominant shopping location in the city centre. The scheme has provided operators with modern well configured floorplates securing household names such as JLP, Next, Boots, Mango, Zara and JD.

“In addition it has secured Scottish debuts for Pull & Bear, Bershka W Hotel, ITSU, TOCA and Stradivarius to name a few. However, as a result of the St James opening, we continue to see a shift in Edinburgh’s retailing centre of gravity eastwards with high void rates at the western end of Princes Street requiring landlords to be creative in re-purposing their assets and a re-basing of rental values across the board.”

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Colliers’ LocateVenues data also reveals that local centres and high streets are out-performing some of the larger destinations in the recovery from COVID-19. Smaller venues have grown by circa nine per cent between 2019 and 2022.

Aviemore is the most tourism-based location in the ranking due to the town’s concentration of retail and leisure occupiers that cater to visitors. This includes museums, galleries, outdoor clothing and equipment retailers.

Paul Matthews, co-head of retail strategy & analytics at Colliers, commented: “Data is now more important than ever as our clients navigate the consumer behaviour changes in response to COVID-19 and the continued evolution of shopping channel shift.”

The shift to local shopping is also demonstrated in the change in occupier presence by venue type.

Mr Matthews adds: “The growth of some local shopping venues is likely driven by a desire or requirement for convenience during lockdown. This was compounded by the need for more diverse, sustainable real estate. However, it’ll take a few years to establish how permanent the shift is as life without restrictions becomes the norm.”

Plan for former store

A fresh application has been lodged to re-develop the former Bhs store in Sauchiehall street, Glasgow.

The buildinghas been lying vacant since the company went into administration in 2016.

The new plan is for a mixed use development that includes retail, offices, food and drink and leisure but few details have been released in the initial pre-application.

The building is owned by property developer Formal Investments.

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