Cambridge has been named the healthiest retail location in a Britain, topping a list of 1,000 shopping destinations.
The 2017 Vitality Index, compiled by retail property specialist Harper Dennis Hobbs (HDH), finds that Cambridge has moved up six places to come out on top, with Westfield London in second and Knightsbridge remaining in third place.
The Index ranks retail locations by their ‘retail health’ by measuring the proportion of up-market shops; the proportion of value-led shops; the vacancy rate and the proportion of ‘undesirable’ shops – such as pawnbrokers, money lenders, and bookmakers.
These variables are also compared to the demographic composition of the centre’s catchment area and a greater score is given to areas whose retail mix is optimally adapted to the local community.
London still dominates the national retail scene, with 34% of the top 50 most ‘vital centres’ located in the capital.
However, quality retailers are increasingly gravitating towards a few very strong shopping centres and high streets, and this concentration of quality retail within the city is at the expense of the typical London high street, HDH has warned.
Birmingham and Glasgow are the most improved centres near the top of the ranking, as both have benefited from new retail developments.
Brent Cross has fallen out of the top 50 as a result of the preparation for works to modernise and expand the centre.
The ‘least vital centre’ is Shields Road in Byker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where 19.6% of retail floorspace is unused – up 11% in the past five years.
HDH head of retail consultancy Jonathan De Mello said: “Our ranking highlights the ‘healthiest’ retail centres in Britain which successful brands should target when considering network expansion.
“Smaller centres are of increasing interest to retailers, given rents are often highest in the largest centres.
“So a small centre with a high vitality score – and the right shopper profile – could potentially yield strong profits.”