Peterborough tops list of hot retail towns

Peterborough has topped a new list of areas that represent the best prime opportunities for retailers following April’s business rates revaluation.

Research carried out by retail consultancy CACI for Property Week shows that the Cambridgeshire town is the best location in the prime market for retailers looking to open new stores, followed by Canterbury and Chester.

Completing the list were Cheltenham, Southampton, Exeter, Solihull and Cambridge.

To arrive at the ranking, CACI took the 177 largest retail centres in England and Wales - which account for 50% of all retail spend - and looked at the change in their prime pitch rental value as calculated by the Valuation Office Agency between the 2010 and 2017 business rates revaluations.

The top eight locations identified have all seen a decrease of at least 5%, making them more affordable for occupiers.

Among non-prime, mid-sized centres, Middlesbrough, Coventry and Northampton were ranked highest, having seen at least a 20% fall.

Business rates were revalued in April this year for the first time in seven years. While most areas in London and the South East saw significant increases, many locations further away from the capital have experienced falls.

“Retailers may now be able to look at areas that they had not been able to afford before,” said Alex McCulloch, associate partner at CACI. “Places that smaller retailers in particular might have dismissed could now be worth reconsidering.”

Expand estates

He added that many retailers were still looking to expand their estates despite the current lull in the market.

“A lot of retailers have small to medium-sized estates of fewer than 100 stores and are looking for an additional 70 to 80 stores to achieve full UK coverage,” he said. “The business rates revaluation could give them an opportunity to speed that process up.”

It could also encourage retailers to cast their net further when considering new locations.

“Retailers’ expansions have been quite London focused in recent years, but [thanks to the revaluation] there are now opportunities across every region of the UK,” McCulloch said. “It’s about parking people’s preconceptions and taking a more data-led approach rather than relying on gut instincts.”

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