The High Street is undoubtedly experiencing massive challenges in terms of retail performance, and although it looks likely that retail will never be the same again in these locations, our High Streets are not dying, rather they are being transformed via change-of-use.
With £1 in every £5 of retail spend now taking place online, and rising even further during lockdown - to 32.8% in May - according to the ONS, it’s no surprise that high street retail is suffering. Therefore it stands to reason that, rather than trying to refresh the bricks & mortar retail model, our high streets should focus on meeting demands that the internet cannot.
A trend has materialised through our analysis, which although confirms that the writing is indeed on the wall for retail on the high street as we know it, it is not the end for the high street as a place to live, work and create experiences.
Our change-of-use data - from retail into an alternative use - collected over the last five years, shows that the hotel & leisure sector has seen the greatest growth in all regions, counties and towns, closely followed by private housing, then mixed-use offices & commercial premises.
Experiences, socialising, and living have been the main drivers behind change-of-use, which highlights the human needs that online offerings just can’t meet for people in the real world.
Unsurprisingly, the most active regions for change-of-use from retail is in London, however the trend has become highly prevalent in the Midlands and the North West too.
There are some great examples of change-of-use from retail to an alternative that are delivering quality solutions to help meet these very human needs, and there are plenty of current opportunities for businesses right now too.
A prime example is the change of use for House of Fraser in Birmingham city centre which has had plans approved for the £197m mixed-use scheme to include offices, a hotel, retail, and/or leisure. Designed to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating, this project is at pre-tender stage. (Glenigan Project ID: 18426203).
So, rather than writing the high street off, it has real potential to transform - from a row of shops - to a valuable space supplying housing, leisure and business that the internet cannot.
Glenigan customers can access change-of-use projects via their subscription.
Not a Glenigan customer but would like to identify opportunities in this space? Please request a free demo, we’d love to help.