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Nick Turk of Colliers International

Chippenham has lowest retail vacancy rates outside of London – report

Chippenham has been ranked alongside Oxford Street and Kensington High Street in list the of most-occupied shopping centres.

In a stunning reversal of fortunes, shop vacancy rates in Chippenham have gone from being the among worst in the South West to the best in just three years.

The town is singled out in the latest edition of Colliers International’s National Retail Barometer.

Shop vacancy rates are down to 5.2 percent – down from 10.3 percent in 2011 and eight percent this time last year.

Only Kensington High Street and Oxford Street rank higher.

The town is the only location outside of London to report single figure percentages.

Nationally, the shop vacancy rate stands at 13 percent.

Colliers International retail specialist, Nick Turk said the latest report suggested that high street’s in the West of England have weathered the worst of the downturn, with vacant space created by high profile retailer liquidations being steadily absorbed.

Nick said: “Following rafts of retailer administrations and rapid technological and consumer change, we are seeing evidence that the High Street is finding a new role within the retail hierarchy.

“By seeking the right mix of national and independent retailers alongside a strong leisure offer, our high streets can be positioned alongside online shopping rather than against it.”

The report underlined the fact that most online shoppers preferred to collect goods rather than rely on home delivery.

Nick adds: “The growth of online shopping will continue to influence the demand for physical stores and retailers are now more focused on building smaller networks of outlets that primarily target the strongest High Streets, shopping centres and out-of-town parks.

“The evidence suggests that a number of units remain unsuitable for modern retail requirements or are simply no longer required in today’s market.

“For retail landlords, the challenge is to provide a key point of difference which will attract shoppers. In this respect, an attractive leisure element and free or cheap parking is essential.

“All shopping environments need to continue to develop initiatives which will drive footfall and inevitably lead to greater retailer demand for shops.”

In comparison to the situation six months ago, the sample centres have collectively registered a decrease in vacant space of more than 300,000 sq ft. Total vacancy across the 15 tracked locations now stands at 1.8m sq ft.