The new Bullring has proved to be a massive boon for the Birmingham retail market, according to retail property expert Nick Round.
Mr Round, director of retail agency at Lambert Smith Hampton, says that the opening of the Bullring has nearly doubled shoppers? spend in the Birmingham market and has increased the number of shoppers visiting the city by nearly half, while prime zone A rents have remained stable at #300 per sq ft, firmly in the top three in the UK.
?Now that the Bullring is six months old, and comparative data with other retail centres is available, we can see what an absolute benefit the centre and its new retailers have brought to the city?s offer,? said Mr Round, who is based in Lambert Smith Hampton?s Birmingham office.
?More shoppers than ever are visiting Birmingham, and more importantly for retailers, they are spending more money than ever before, as the quality and availability of the retailer offer has improved.?
The latest figures from CACI?s UK retail research show that the comparison spend in the Birmingham market increased 92 per cent from #1,148 million (in January 2003) to #2,206.4 million (in January 2004), while the modelled shopper population has gone up 46 per cent from 730,972 to 1,068648 in the same time period.
?This puts Birmingham in third place behind Glasgow and London for spending, which shows the pull of the new retailers.
?More importantly, this has been achieved while prime zone A rents have remained solid at #300 psf, although 1.2 million sq ft of new retail space has been added. This makes Birmingham the largest prime retail pitch outside London,? said Mr Round.
?Even with all this new space, Birmingham continues to compete very well with other major retail centres in terms of rental prices which landlords can command.
?It is again third in the league of premium Zone A rents behind London and Newcastle-upon -Tyne, and on a par with Manchester.?
Research by Lambert Smith Hampton shows that rental growth in London?s West End has stalled, with prime Zone A rents on Oxford Street at #480 psf, down from #500 psf.
However, in Newcastle Zone A rents on the city?s prime Northumberland Street pitch are #325 psf.
?Lack of space on the prime pitch in Newcastle has jacked up the prices,? said Mr Round. Forecasts for 2004 rents published in Lambert Smith Hampton?s Retail Cities Report are that in most major UK retail centres, rents will remain stable.
?This will certainly be the case in Birmingham for the next few months.
?However, the overwhelming success of the Bullring has already prompted many landlords to start improving the quality of their accommodation, as the positive publicity and feel-good factor about Birmingham will continue to attract shoppers and retailers,? he added.
?We are aware of many outstanding retailer requirements, particularly for units of less than 10,000 sq ft, which are desperate to become part of Birmingham?s retail scene.
?Some, at the top end of the market, have found a home at the Mailbox, but many others are still searching for the right premises.
?Such demand will undoubtedly mean that rents will start to climb again towards the end of 2004, or early in 2005.