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Retail finally on the rise

The UK retail sector is beginning to feel the effects of the nation’s fledgling economic recovery as demand to rent premises jumped considerably during the third quarter of the year, says the latest RICS Commercial Property Survey.
With winter fast approaching, 27 percent more chartered surveyors reported rises rather than falls in demand for shops, a record high. While demand is still historically very low, this sizable jump in interest from potential retail tenants does represent a welcome sign that the worst could now be over for the high street. Significantly, every part of the country saw demand for retail space increase with London seeing the most notable growth.

In tandem with this more positive picture for the sector, the amount of new retail space being built across the country also rose slightly (net balance +6 percent).

Meanwhile, demand for all types of commercial premises, such as office and industrial space, also grew during the three months to October as a net balance of 36 percent more respondents reported increasing demand. This growth in interest resulted in rental expectations for the coming year also increasing at the most substantial rate since the second quarter of 2007.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, commented: 'The pick-up in the desire to occupy retail space is broadly reflective of the improved trend in high street spending. That does not, however, mean that the big challenges facing the sector have disappeared. Rent expectations are still largely soft away from the South East part of the country and it is mainly in London where the numbers are strongly positive.'

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