North West sees 82 out of town store openings this year as vacancy rate falls

Altrincham Retail Park

The North West has seen 82 new stores open at retail parks in the region this year, with further openings still to come in the final month of the year.

Savills reports that the high number of openings demonstrates the ongoing resilience of the out of town retail market, as retailers continue to favour retail park locations.

In spite of the array of challenges facing the wider UK retail market, the research suggests that the North West is on track to meet, and potentially surpass, last year’s total number of new openings of 99.

Savills notes that the region has seen a diverse mix of retailers taking new stores, with Homesense opening at Altrincham Retail Park and planning secured for Lidl’s introduction to the scheme next year, along with a refresh of the existing Homebase store.

In addition, Savills reports that New Look has shown its confidence in Stockport Retail Park on new lease terms, following a raft of new store openings including Smyths Toys, Bensons for Beds, Sofology and Tim Hortons. Crown Point Shopping Park in Denton has seen both Poundland and Greggs upsize from existing units with new, larger stores due to open this month, while local gym operator King’s Gym has acquired a new site at Moorgate Retail Park in Bury with plans to open in Spring 2023.

Savills goes on to report that the strong acquisition activity has helped drive vacancy rates downwards, with vacancy at retail parks in the North West now standing at just 4.9%,  marginally below the UK average of 5%. The constrained supply of vacant stores means that rents in the sector have remained robust with some sub-sectors, such as drive thrus, experiencing an uplift in rents due to the significant competition for space.

Andy Hall, out of town retail director at Savills Manchester, said: “The retail park market has shown resilience throughout the pandemic as customers favoured spacious, convenient out of town locations with ample car parking and provisions for services such as click and collect. It’s pleasing to see that this drive is continuing, with the North West seeing an ever increasing mix of retailers taking new stores in the region this year. With the supply of available units remaining low, we expect to see a continued good level of demand for vacant units as retailers look to capitalise on the ongoing resilience of the retail park market.”

Sam Arrowsmith, commercial research director at Savills, added: “While the retail sector is once again facing a number of headwinds, ultimately the fundamentals of the out of town market remain robust, which is why we continue to see retailers opting to open new stores in these locations.”