Prime retail rents in the West Midlands have outstripped the national average, according to new research from property firm Colliers CRE.
Average in-town retail rents between May 2004 and May 2005 increased by 4.7 per cent, compared to 3.9 per cent the previous year, and well ahead of the UK average of four per cent.
Figures for 2004-2005 show that the South-west and Wales topped this year's regional rankings, recording rental growth of 5.4 per cent.
The next best performing regions were the East Midlands and the South-east, both up 4.9 per cent, and the West Midlands, up 4.7 per cent.
Colliers CRE's research points to a definite north-south divide with the Midlands, Wales, and southern regions performing better than Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern regions.
The research also showed that the top performing centres in the Midlands over the past 12 months were been Kettering, Alfreton and Droitwich with rental growth of 25 per cent, followed by Lichfield at 21.4 per cent and Halesowen at 18.2 per cent.
Birmingham is the highest rented centre in the Midlands, with a Zone A of £325 per sq ft, followed by Merry Hill at £265 per sq ft and Nottingham at £230 per sq ft.
Hanley and Leicester were joint fourth at £210 per sq ft.
Richard Bidwell, Colliers CRE's director of retail in the Midlands, said: "In Birmingham there has been a shift in focus away from the former golden square of Union Street, Corporation Street, New Street and High Street to The Bullring and the junction of High Street and New Street.
"As a result, Corporation Street has declined and this is evident in the large number of available retail units on this pitch.
"We expect rental levels and shopping patterns to rise when these come on stream in 2008-2009."