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Top of the Shops - Gerald Eve Publishes Prime Retail

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LONDON, November 5 /PRNewswire/ --

- A comprehensive ranking of the UK and Ireland's leading retail centres

Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester now offer a shopping experience to rival London's West End in terms of the depth and quality of the shops on offer, according to research by Gerald Eve, chartered surveyors and property consultants. The results of Prime Retail, released this month, ranks what it's like to shop in the UK and Ireland's leading towns and cities. The research confirms a boom time for retailers in the north with a number of major cities there currently experiencing buoyant trading conditions and, more importantly, a distinct expectation that the good times are set to continue.

Best illustrated by last year's Bullring development in Birmingham and Selfridges and Harvey Nichols opening in Manchester, regional UK cities have been dramatically improving their retail offer in recent years. Moreover, with ambitious developments planned for Glasgow and Liverpool (to name but two) over the coming years, the superiority of London's West End as the nation's shopping capital is fast diminishing. The Prime Retail research also reveals the many drawbacks and issues associated with retailing in London's West End. For the first time, the impact of issues such as the congestion charge, fear of terrorism and shoplifting can be presented. In addition, the dynamic shopping streets of the Irish capital Dublin can be accurately assessed and benchmarked against UK cities.

London West End

Whilst London's West End is the clear winner in the retail stakes, it's lead over Dublin and Glasgow in particular, is far less than the average high street shopper would perhaps instinctively imagine. We have grown up in the UK being told that the glitz and glamour of London's West End is in a league of its own. Gerald Eve's Prime Retail research confirms today that, whilst undoubtedly still superior, such is the 'baggage' that associates a trip to Oxford Street, Regent Street or Bond Street, that for an increasing number of shoppers the presence of a select few additional shops is no longer sufficient to warrant a trip into the heart of the UK capital - especially given the quality of much more accessible retail destinations on their doorsteps.

...crime...fear of terrorism...congestion charge...basic facilities

    
    - In London's West End, an estimated 5.8% of trade is lost to retail 
      crime - a much higher level of loss than seen in other major cities in 
      the survey - Sheffield (1.3%), Bristol (1.7%), Cardiff (1.7%) and 
      Glasgow (2.0%).

    - According to 73% of London's West End retailers, fear of terrorism is 
      having a significantly negative impact on trade.

    - At a time when Ken Livingstone contemplates increasing the congestion 
      charge, 68% of retailers report its damaging effect on trade compared 
      with only 5% feeling it is having a positive impact.

    - London's West End also scored poorest amongst our 32 major retail 
      centres for basic shopper facilities such as public toilets.

Regional shopping destinations of choice... boom time in the North and it is getting even better

Michael Moran, responsible for the Prime Retail research project, commented: "Successful centres offer residents choice and value for money. In each of the towns and cities we survey, the retail sector is likely to contribute at least 25% towards the local economy and provide employment for at least 20% of the local workforce. Just as importantly though, residents can hold up a dynamic, trend-setting city centre as a source of great local pride and confidence - Leeds benefited from a dramatic improvement in local consciousness when Harvey Nichols chose the city for their first store outside Knightsbridge in 1996. Perceptions of Birmingham as a shopping destination have been transformed thanks solely to the new Bullring shopping centre. Retail can enthuse and inspire the local population like no other industry sector".

For retailers, current trading conditions are better in the north. The region is strongly represented at the upper end of the rankings with the cities of Leeds, Newcastle and Liverpool taking the top three positions. In Leeds, 42% of retailers describe trade as 'buoyant' against only 7% that believe it to be 'poor'. Belfast (5th), Manchester (7th) and Glasgow (8th) also feature prominently in the upper echelons of the current trading index.

At the opposite end of the scale, retailers in Plymouth, Bristol and Leicester are currently experiencing the toughest trading conditions in the country. Indeed, in Plymouth only 6% of retailers describe trade as 'buoyant' against a huge 49% that believe it to be 'poor'.

Croydon is a significant 'hot spot' for retailers. Over the last 12 months, Croydon has been the major mover in the Prime Retail hierarchy thanks to the successful opening of the new Centrale shopping centre. Elsewhere movements have been more modest with centres such as Chester, Watford and Liverpool benefiting from the opening of a handful of new stores.

Prime Retail took a detailed look at retailers' expectations for the future. At the top of this poll, retailers in Liverpool indicate exceptional levels of confidence for the next three years - over 84% expect trade to improve (from already strong current levels). Thirty-five miles east along the M62, the city of Manchester lies second in our list of confident centres. By contrast, centres in the South dominate the lower rankings with Watford, Bromley, Kingston and Oxford particularly prominent. In Oxford, only 30% of retailers expect their trade to increase over the medium term.

Liverpool's status as Capital of Culture in 2008 is symbolic of the upturn in local confidence levels. By contrast, chronic congestion levels in Oxford are principally to blame for a balance of retailers there actually predicting relative sales decline over the coming three years. However, retailers in Oxford are adamant that significant investment in park and ride facilities would yield a real benefit to the city with 83% supporting this notion as opposed to only 17% that feel it would not alleviate congestion levels to a significant degree.

    
    Winners (and losers) of the retail Oscars

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         Winners        Runners up
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Best car parking                     Southampton    Birmingham
    Worst car parking                    Oxford         London's West End
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Least traffic congestion             Belfast        Southampton
    Worst traffic congestion             Oxford         Cambridge
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Best public transport                Croydon        Nottingham
    Worst public transport               Bath           Exeter
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Most secure environment (personal    Guildford      Plymouth
    safety)
    Least secure environment (personal   Chester        Kingston
    safety)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Most attractive town/city centre     Guildford      Cardiff
    Least attractive town/city centre    Leicester      Belfast
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Best leisure facilities              Manchester     Nottingham
    Worst leisure facilities             Exeter         Oxford
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Best shopper facilities (public      Southampton    Watford
    toilets etc)
    Worst shopper facilities (public     London's West  Runner-up - Oxford
    toilets etc)                         End
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

Prime Retail analyses the performance and prospects of the UK and Ireland's leading retail centres and represents the most extensive research of retail trends in the property industry. Central to the work is extensive primary research to understand the reasons why some cities and towns are successful - drawing shoppers from far and wide - and why some have lost a degree of their popularity and local residents no longer shop there - or if they do it is much less frequently.

Over the last 15 months Gerald Eve have surveyed in excess of 13,000 individual retailers, seeking to ascertain their thoughts on trading conditions as well as all other issues relevant to their local business. These inputs are central to the forecasting of the potential growth opportunities facing each town or city.

The retail score for each town or city is an average of individual ratings for the quantity, quality and functionality (parking, transport, environment, security etc). The research covers all those cities and towns in the UK and Ireland that have a genuine regional pull and retail profile. For the full details go to the Prime Retail press release at www.geraldeve.com.

SOURCE Gerald Eve



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