Market focus: Resilient London GCW Director

Will Mabbett outlines the resilience of Central London retail.

As the cost-of-living crisis forces consumers to tighten their purse strings, some parts of the country are naturally more robust than others. Retailers understand this and as they reassess their strategies, many are investing in flagship offers in locations less susceptible to the squeeze on disposable income.

The flight to perceived safe havens is having a positive impact on the Central London market. As retailers reposition portfolios, prime pitches come to the fore. By targeting high traffic locations and appealing to the most affluent shoppers, brands are far better placed to weather the storm. In the new omni-channel world, retailers now have greater understanding of how to drive value from their bricks and mortar stores. They will continue to play an important role in their business strategies. Much of that focus will be on larger prominent stores that drive efficiencies and showcase what the brand has to offer.

London’s prime retail space not only provides an ideal platform but one that is now far more affordable. Rental values have shifted significantly, and the rating revaluation can offer retailers significant savings. That makes it far easier for the figures to stack up.

Oxford Street for instance has been a major beneficiary of revaluation and the market has witnessed increased demand in recent months for its prime units. Europe’s busiest shopping street was struggling even before lockdown but there are positive signs that it is on the road to recovery. We have seen numerous retailers commit to opening stores on the street, including Ikea and fashion pureplay Manière de Voir. At the same time, there are a range of redevelopment plans, including the repurposing of the House of Fraser and Debenhams stores.

Tourist numbers are up, the Elizabeth Line has improved accessibility and domestic consumers are choosing to spend their disposable income in prime pitches with a wide choice of stores.

Despite the casualties, many retailers and F&B operators proved agile and resilient through the pandemic. The best ones have come out the other side with more robust strategies and are now on the lookout for appropriate space to build on their physical retail portfolios.

The key to success from an occupier point of view lies in maximising performance through effective portfolio management. That is where team GCW comes into its own. We have the experience and expertise needed to understand the market. Our analysis and boots on the ground approach gives us unrivalled knowledge of locations and their catchments. Make use of our insight and let best-in-class consultancy help you navigate the new normal.