At the same time, BRC have announced that whilst vacancy rates have fallen so have footfall figures – the number of people visiting the high street was down 0.6% in June, an improvement from the 0.7% decline in May, but a decline nonetheless.
At the time of our original research in January, Peterborough was outperforming the nation. Whilst some high streets were showing vacancy rates of up to 27%, Peterborough sat at 9.2%, some way better than the national average of 14.1% and just behind the UK’s best performing City (Cambridge) at 7%.
6 months on, and it is clear that Peterborough continues to strengthen as a retail location, and continues to outperform the nation. Of the 454 shop units within the central shopping area, just 27 are currently vacant, and of those 9 are under offer to new occupiers. The vacancy rate, then, sits at just 6% - again, considerably better than the national average.
In January there were 42 vacant units, meaning that 16 new operators have opened in the City in the past 6 months, which clearly demonstrates the City’s attraction to retailers.
Another interesting fact, and perhaps a surprise to many, is that 49% of all of our occupied shops are operated by independent retailers – not national chains. This again is an improvement since January when the figure sat at 44%.
There can be no doubt that the face of the high street is changing. Demand from pawnbrokers, money lenders and bookmakers has fallen away, to be replaced by e-cig retailers, nail bars and tattoo parlours, and other strong growth sectors are coffee shops and barbers. This is perhaps to be expected – recent changes in legislation mean that the payday loan sector is under significant pressure, and the continued reduction in footfall figures is a clear indicator of the rise of internet retail.
But you cannot buy a cup of coffee on the internet, get you nails painted, your hair cut, or your arm tattooed. So, as it always does, the high street is adapting to its customer base, and Peterborough continues to go from strength to strength.