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A new future for the High Street?

Editorial –

Two interesting observations relating to High Streets across the land right now;

The first is that Secondary Retail space in some Southern locations is now cheaper to rent than industrial space. The implication is that it might be possible for small warehouse businesses to operate online despatch from the rear of a shop with smaller emphasis placed on retail footfall as has traditionally been the case. Town centre parking charges remains a challenge to such businesses however. Watch this space!

The second is a remarks this week attributed to Jes Staley – head of Barclays Bank.  Having thousands of bank workers in big, expensive city offices “may be a thing of the past” he is reported to have said. With 70,000 Barclays staff currently working at home he went on to question the rationale behind usually having up to 7000 people sitting in a single building in London when investment and call-centre staff could work from cheaper, surplus space in Retail branches.  If adopted as common practice by banks there could be a real boost to High Streets (and nearby sandwich shops) at some expense to the overheated London office market.

What appears certain, is that some retail rents are now low enough to attract ideas for alternative or adapted uses. Retail has never changed so fast and history shows that relatively cheap land pulls in investment and development. The UK population is still growing and forecast to grow further. Most of that growth is in urban areas.  Maybe it is too soon to write-off the High Street.