Aug 23, 2021
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Shaftesbury hails recovery in West End footfall

Aug 23, 2021

London's West End may still be a long way from normality, as any visitor to the area can see at present, but the key shopping neighbourhood is bouncing back and on Monday, major landlord Shaftesbury emphasised that fact with its latest trading update.

Shaftesbury is seeing less vacant space with new tenants such as War Paint for Men - War Paint for Men/Shaftesbury

The company said that it's seeing a “significant reduction” in vacancies as West End footfall and trading are recovering and the overall operating environment is improving.

The company owns a 16-acre portfolio in the West End and said that the period from April 1 up to August 20 saw weekly footfall recovering to between 50% and 60% of pre-pandemic levels. That came as Londoners, domestic day trippers and staycation visitors “have returned in growing numbers”.

The “exceptionally large office-based working population” isn’t back in full strength just yet, but is “anticipated from early autumn”.

And Shaftesbury added that the retailers in its properties are reporting improving trade, particularly at the weekends. It's also seeing a continuing recovery in occupier demand.

Available-to-let vacancies on August 13 were down to 4.1% from 8.4% at the end of March and it's seeing an “encouraging pace” at which space continues to go under offer.

Interestingly, it said that the healthy occupier interest for its shops include online retailers looking for physical space “to provide consumer experience, interaction and engagement and further enhance their brand identity”.

As for rent collections, its figures are still below normality with July seeing it collecting 55% of contracted rent. In the three months to the end of June it collected 51% and in the three months to the end of March it collected 40%. But it's confident that further collections will be made over the coming month.

The company is continuing to invest in its buildings and adapt them to changing occupier requirements and said it was reconfiguring some larger shops, “reflecting the acceleration of retailer demand for smaller, more affordable space to showcase their brands”.

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