Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

High Noon on High Street?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

High Noon on High Street?

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mike Birkett

Trends in High Street retailing are well beyond demand and supply and the availability of the right type of space for today's retailers says Mike Birkett, associate director of retail agency at Atisreal's Newcastle office.

The last year has seen a switch from a somewhat cosy debate about cities such as Newcastle and their ability to provide thoroughly-modern space for retailers who often want space of up to 30,000sq ft, if not more.

The argument has always been that Newcastle has a list of retailers desperate to get space in prime locations.

Prime rents have apparently stagnated at pounds 300 per sq ft Zone A as there has been no evidence of a new, open-market, letting. If there had been such a letting the view is that rents would be 10% higher.

So the focus has been on schemes coming through, put more accurately, what is happening and when. The answer is nothing really until 2007, maybe 2008, though leases coming to the market, such as the lease for the Zara store on Northumberland Street, will provide an opportunity to get rare space in the short-term.

However, the trend over the last year has been a queue of retailers saying that they are not doing very well and there have been a number seeking administration or even liquidation. With household expenditure making up over 60% of the UK economy, knowing what is happening to household expenditure is extremely important in gauging what the economy is doing.

Unfortunately statistics are only published quarterly and even those can be two months later. Concerns about the statistics on retail sales published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have been raised as they cover only part of all household expenditure.

Based on a Board of Trade system set up when the country was in the grip of post-war rationing, some claim the statistics could give a distorted view of what is going on in the High Street ( the structure of the economy, fashions and tastes have changed since the 1940s. …

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