Prime shopping sites seeing rental growth

Glasgow's Buchanan Street is recovering from the slump. Picture: Robert Perry

Glasgow's Buchanan Street is recovering from the slump. Picture: Robert Perry

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SHOP rents in Scotland’s largest cities have tumbled in recent years, despite signs that prime sites are enjoying a revival.

Commercial estate agency CBRE, which compiled the figures, said its findings mask a growing discrepancy and the problems for smaller high streets and market towns are only set to get worse.

Retail rents per square foot in Glasgow have fallen by 17.6 per cent in the past five years, the firm said. In Edinburgh the fall was 4.8 per cent, but Aberdeen dropped more than 27 per cent.

Kevin Sims, retail director for CBRE in Scotland, said that although prices had now stabilised, the big changes since the financial crisis have only started to reverse at top locations such as Edinburgh’s George Street and Glasgow’s Buchanan Street. Many market towns have seen rents fall by between a third and a half since the financial crisis.

Sims said some shopping areas are not viable at any level, as many big chains are scaling back their portfolios.

“Fundamentally there are too many shops in Scotland and you are not going to fill all of these units again,” he said.

While he welcomed UK planning minister Nick Boles’s suggestion that some failing retail areas should be converted to residential use, Sim said ground-floor high-street properties would not be desirable.

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