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High street transformation affecting cities

13 Jun 2014

2013 saw a vast overhaul in shopfront usage across the UK, according to the industry journal Estates Gazette. Traditional shop space equalling 1.7 million square feet has been replaced with leisure facilities, such as gyms, bars, restaurants and betting shops.

The report shows that betting shops have the biggest increase in number, with 106 being licensed to open last year. Gyms and health clubs took the most amount of space, however, with over 1 million square feet.

This information coincides with predictions by the Centre for Retail Research, which indicate falling shop numbers in the next five years. The forecast says that total store numbers will fall by 22%, with job losses of around 316,000.

According to the Centre, consumer spending has increased by just 12% since 2006 compared with a 20% increase in retail operating costs. A major boom in online shopping – the UK now has the highest proportion of online retail sales in the world – has also led to the decline.

The change in usage and disappearance of retail space are issues which are likely to have a dramatic effect on cities throughout the UK in coming months and years.