Hull and Sheffield among biggest losers of retail space in past year, says report

Credit: Press Association

The coronavirus crisis has accelerated the shift away from retail premises towards e-commerce, a new study suggests.

Around 300,000 square metres of retail space was lost in England and Wales in the past year, the equivalent of 42 football pitches, said private wealth and property law firm Boodle Hatfield.

Manchester lost the largest amount of retail space, followed by Hull, Coventry, Sheffield and Peterborough, said the report.

Boodle Hatfield said the current moratorium on evictions could be disguising the true impact of the pandemic on the retail sector and once this is lifted even more retail space is likely to be taken permanently out of use.

Simon Williams, of Boodle Hatfield, said: "The retail landscape is continuing to contract with more and more space being taken out of use. The more severe the lockdown rules the faster this decline.

"Should the moratorium on evictions be lifted at the start of 2021, many retailers will be in an extremely vulnerable position, particularly if coronavirus restrictions keep Christmas shoppers away.

City centres have struggled to recover as people choose to shop locally or online. Should this trend continue, we could see vast swathes of prime retail space taken out of use. The question for the Government and local authorities is how much they invest in stemming this decline versus allowing more change of use from retail to residential.

Simon Williams, Boodle Hatfield