Blog


Headlines lament the death of the high street but Julian Welch, Barker Storey Matthews’ retail specialist, looks beyond the headlines to reveal a retail picture in Peterborough away from the big names and the prime locations.

In a retail world where the big brands - and their big marketing budgets - can command the headlines whether in good times or bad, it’s not a happy place at the moment.  Pharmacy and beauty retailer, Boots being the latest high street name to announce a programme of store closures this month (April).

However, in Peterborough we continue to chart low vacancy rates in the city centre.  At the last statistical reckoning, vacancy rates here are 4.5 per cent compared against the national figure of 11 per cent.

This statistic is given life and meaning by property deals we’ve concluded at Barker Storey Matthews recently.  The last four retail instructions we have marketed in the city centre - on Cowgate, Long Causeway, Westgate and Wentworth Street - have generated solid interest and multiple offers and all four went under offer very quickly.  In addition, before completion, competition for one of the retail properties was at a level where a higher offer was made by a competing interest, thus gazumping the first party during negotiations.

It would be misleading to suggest this is happening across the piece when it comes to retail property.  But, in our experience in Peterborough, these are the prevailing retail property market conditions in secondary shopping locations and on the smaller retail units here.

In locations such as these, rents are more affordable.  More importantly, it is also the slice of the market where Small Business Rates relief applies.  Retail occupiers operating at this level will have a greatly reduced, if not, zero business rates bill under the current regime.

A new central government initiative to help the high street is also set to further boost retailers operating from smaller units.  For the next two fiscal years, 2019/2020 and 2020/2021, all retailers will receive a third (33.3 per cent) of a reduction in their business rates bill where the rateable value of their property is below £51,000.

Such measures serve to reinforce the view that Peterborough is a good place in which to do business.  Something that us property insiders here have long known about the value of the city’s retail offering and who continue to bang the drum on behalf of this vibrant, Cambridgeshire city.

We would encourage any potential occupiers to peel away the headlines about the high street and take the time to talk to property agents who have experience of both the strategic and the day-to-day property scene in the city.

For more information about retail units to let and other retail property opportunities in Peterborough, contact Julian Welch at Barker Storey Matthews on 01733 897722.