Cirencester boasts the best performing High Street in the South West with prime rents showing a healthy fourteen per cent improvement on 2008.
The latest Midsummer Retail Report from commercial property specialists Colliers International was unveiled to business leaders at a high-profile launch at Bristol’s M Shed on Wednesday.
Cirencester, Wells, Dorchester, Chippenham and Cheltenham defied national trends and maintained solid progress in the face of tough trading conditions.
Tim Davies, head of Colliers International’s Bristol office, said: “We are predicting that the high street will gradually recover over the next seven years and by 2020 the number of empty shops will have fallen from its current level of 12 per cent of total floor space to about 7 per cent – a similar level to the peak in 2006.
“But this recovery will be selective with the major town centres seeing the greatest reduction in empty shops and the medium centres seeing the least.”
There are several contributing factors to Chippenham’s success including the wealthy catchment population and vibrant tourist scene.”
Other West towns saw a significant decline in rental performance. Yeovil, Bournemouth, Taunton, Newquay and Weston-super-Mare all reported declines in prime rents of between 13 and 21 per cent.
This drag factor has seen average prime rents in the South West slip 3.8 per cent.
Tim said the recovery will be more pronounced in the major centres, fuelled by a significant increase in the UK population coupled with modest economic growth. Continued growth of internet sales will force retailers to concentrate on bigger stores in fewer locations.
“The day of new retailers entering into the UK and rolling 300 new outlets is over. The new model is to open 20-50 units in the major retail centres and to have a strong internet presence that runs symbiotically, providing the consumer with both traditional and online shopping options.”

Tim Davies said the retail sector had been badly hit by the reduction in consumer expenditure, excessive competition and retail over-development.
“But central and local government must carry much of the blame for not trying to address the issue sooner. Central Government’s decision to delay the rates revaluation will effect many businesses. There will be a massive knock on effect on those High Streets where the decline has been steepest.
“In the meantime local Government has largely ignored calls to reduce car parking charges in declining town centres and has not shown sufficient flexibility in changing the use of shops or bringing local stake holders together.”
For further details contact Tim Davies, head of office, Colliers International Bristol on 0117 917 2000.

About Colliers International:
Colliers International is the third-largest commercial real estate services company in the world, with over 12,300 professionals operating out of more than 522 offices in 62 countries. A subsidiary of FirstService Corporation (NASDAQ: FSRV; TSX: FSV and FSV.PR.U), it focuses on accelerating success for its clients by seamlessly providing a full range of services to real estate users, owners and investors worldwide, including global corporate solutions, brokerage, property and asset management, hotel investment sales and consulting, valuation, consulting and appraisal services, mortgage banking and research.

In the UK, Colliers International is one the top real estate advisory organisations, employing over 700 people in 12 full service offices across the UK and Ireland.

Source: Empica Ltd on behalf of Colliers International.