CASE STUDY: The Impact of Continuing Store Closures on the Retail Landscape across UK Towns and Cities

With the retail property landscape under constant pressure and change across the UK, Rob Greenwood looks at the impact continuing store closures are having on the town and city centres of the North-West.

The retail market in the UK has continued to experience turbulent conditions with consumer spending patterns continually shifting from Britain’s high streets to online platforms. Ultimately, this is presenting significant challenges for the retail sector, with vacant retail units across towns and cities, now the norm.

The retail property landscape has evolved significantly over the past 50 years, from post-war redevelopment in town centres, through to the emergence of retail warehouse parks and out-of-town regional shopping malls. For most of this period, the retail sector has experienced considerable expenditure growth, which has been attributed to a number of factors, including greater disposable income, availability of credit, new technology and a general overall increase in our standard of living. However, recent economic conditions have had a clear impact on expenditure, and per capita convenience goods spending has actually reduced in recent years.

There has also been a significant shift in the way goods are purchased. The traditional high street has lost its popularity, with many shoppers now favouring buying online.  Indeed, Online shopping statistics in the UK show that the share of online sales now stands at 26.6% of total retail sales, which represents a sharp increase since the turn of the decade, where this percentage stood at 20.2%.

Evidence of the demise of the high street can now been seen across many of our local towns and cities. Most recently, with Marks and Spencer’s announcing the closure of a number of their stores, including its Bolton store due to continually declining performance. This represents a major challenge for Bolton Council, the owner of the building, as not only will re-letting 100,000 sq ft in current market conditions prove difficult, M&S has a lease on the building until 2027 and if left vacant till then, the empty building will become somewhat of an eye-sore in the town centre.

With shopping trends shifting online and footfall numbers in town centres dwindling, alternative usages for buildings must be considered and amongst property owners who are administering such changes, there are many success stories. Parkinson Real Estate has recently advised on the redevelopment of the former Yorkshire Bank Building on Bradshawgate in Bolton. This has seen the former office space to the upper floors converted into a residential usage with the ground floor being retained under a commercial usage. Each of the 12 no. apartments have let within 3-months, which represents are far better use for the space and generates a far better return for an investor.

It is therefore important for defined centres to be able to respond to continued changes in the retail and leisure sectors and to provide (or continue to provide) an offer/destination which distinguishes them from competing centres and out of centre retail and leisure destinations.


If you are seeking valuation advice throughout the Lancashire region, please contact Rob Greenwood on 07960 612765 or email

Rob Greenwood MSc MRICS

RICS Registered Valuer

Associate Director – Valuation Advisory



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