Cambridge comes out on top

Published:  20 June, 2017

Cambridge heads HDH survey of 1,000 UK retail centres

Harper Dennis Hobbs has expanded its Vitality Index – which looks at the quality of retail in a centre – to 1,000 retail centres across Britain and this year’s research finds Cambridge moving up six places to come out on top, with Westfield London in second and Knightsbridge remaining in third place.

The Vitality Index ranks all retail centres in Britain by quantifying the ‘retail health’ of each centre through: a combination of the proportion of up-market shops; the proportion of value-led shops; the vacancy rate, and the proportion of ‘undesirable’ shops – such as pawnbrokers, money lenders, and bookmakers. In addition, these variables are also compared to the demographic composition of the centre’s catchment area and a greater score is given to areas whose retail mix is optimally adapted to the local community.

London still dominates the national retail scene and 34% of the top 50 most vital centres are located in the capital. However, quality retailers are increasingly gravitating towards a few very strong shopping centres and high streets, and this concentration of quality retail within the city is at the expense of the typical London high street.

Birmingham and Glasgow are the most improved centres near the top of the ranking, as both have benefited from new retail developments. Brent Cross has fallen out of the top 50 as a result of the preparation for works to modernise and expand the centre. It is likely that this drop will be temporary and the centre will increase its score upon completion within the next 5 years.

The Vitality Index has also highlighted the overall increase in the presence of downmarket stores on Britain’s high streets. In the past five years there has been a 2.7 per cent increase in the proportion of value stores in centres, in addition to a 1.6 per cent increase in the proportion of ‘undesirable’ shops.

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