Belfast Telegraph

Retail park vacancy levels at a record low, says guide

Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Vacancy levels in Northern Ireland's retail parks are at an all-time low thanks to the continued popularity of budget retailers, it's been claimed.

A guide by independent retail consultants Trevor Wood Associates said empty units accounted for 9.5% of all space, the lowest since statistics were first analysed in 2006.

Findings in the Definitive Guide to Retail and Leisure Parks 2012 show that Home Bargains, B-amp;M and Poundworld acquired nearly 1m sq ft out-of-town space in the UK in 2011.

Vacancy levels across the UK were at around 9.2%, despite struggling retail sales which have led to the demise of companies like Clinton Cards.

The vacancy levels have been attributed to the rapid arrival in vacant units by retailers like Argos, Dunelm, New Look, Next, Matalan and Pets at Home.

Trevor Wood, senior partner at Trevor Wood Associates, said: "The demand for space from the budget retailers and some more traditional high street stores means the out-of-town market remains in general good health.

"These retailers have taken advantage of the availability of large shops (often vacated by stores that have ceased trading) and which are easily accessible. More and more out-of-town retail parks resemble a traditional high street without some of the negative aspects."

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Commercial property agents Osborne King was also included in the guide's Top 20 Letting Agents in the UK and ranked top letting and management agents in Northern Ireland.

Retail director Colin Mathewson said it had contributed for many years to the guide's database.

"In my view, the marketplace in Northern Ireland is maturing to a point where this type of information is more relevant and useful than ever before," he said.

The top five tenants in Northern Ireland's retail parks were named in the guide as B-amp;Q, Homebase, Marks -amp; Spencer, Matalan and Currys.