OK, grab a pen and jot down what you think the nation’s top 20 retail hotspots are.
Let me guess: parts of London top your list, closely followed by high streets in the UK’s major cities and the most affluent regional locations.
The South Coast seaside town of Bournemouth, I imagine, does not figure prominently, if at all. Ditto Diss, Teignmouth or Hexham. Yet they all feature in our inaugural ranking of The Hot 100 retail hotspots. Indeed Bournemouth tops the list, followed by Exmouth and Watford. Croydon, home of Property Week, makes the top 10 in seventh (yay!).
Granted, we cheated slightly: our list does not include central London, but a top three of Bournemouth, Exmouth and Watford? ‘Ridiculous,’ I hear you snort derisively. ‘Property Week must be having a laugh. This won’t stand up to scrutiny.’
Well, I can assure you it does. The Hot 100 has been compiled by location specialists CACI and is based on a comprehensive set of metrics that, crucially, have been weighted to focus on the retail potential of a location as well as how strongly it is already performing.
Our reasoning was simple. Why tell you about the locations you already know about and are already investing, developing or locating in, or advising others to invest, develop or locate in?
Those locations have up and come. The hottest towns are surely where the hottest opportunities are — the towns that boast many of the right fundamentals, but have not yet come into their own or have fallen on hard times and failed to bounce back.
They are coming into their own and bouncing back now. What makes the list so fascinating is the number of gritty, historically down-at-heel locations on it — and the number of coastal towns (that as Morrissey would say “they forgot to close down”).
Some in the industry would still view many of these locations as secondary, even tertiary. But given how tight land and space are in London and the South East, there are some great opportunities for those willing to roll the dice and look further afield, especially with rental values in the regions recovering.
The trick is to adapt retail offers to suit both the incoming and existing population. It is no coincidence that many of those towards the top of the ranking have also woken up to the fact that consumers no longer just want to go shopping in a shopping centre; they want a compelling food and leisure offer as well.
Still not convinced? Take a look at the list and visit propertyweek.com/data/hot-100-retail-towns to check out the interactive map. The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that this is just the latest in a whole host of exciting things we have been doing with data lately both in the magazine and online. Another new feature we are introducing, or more accurately reintroducing, is an international news page — because we think it is time we reflected the increasingly global makeup of our industry, because we are part of that industry and frankly because some international stories are too good to ignore.
Today also sees the launch of RESI Awards 2015, which are returning for their fourth year to celebrate excellence in the residential property market. We have 18 categories open for entry and nomination this year. You have until 16 January 2015 to enter. Don’t miss out!