Quarter of high street ‘obsolete’ claims expert

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Chris Grigg says online sales are destroying traditional shop parades.

One of Britain’s biggest retail landlords has claimed a quarter of all high street shopping space is “technically obsolete” due to the rise of online shopping and the success of modern shopping centres and retail parks.

Chief executive of British Land, Chris Grigg, who is responsible for a £12 billion portfolio including the Meadowhall Centre in Sheffield and freeholds for Debenhams, B&Q and Homebase, told the i newspaper that crumbling shop parades will gradually be taken out of use.

He explained: “It doesn’t mean they won’t continue to be used to some extent for some years to come, but they are likely to become more marginal. What will do well are the modern shopping centres and retail parks.”

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Grigg believes shop parades will need to shrink down and develop a much clearer purpose “through a combination of effective stores” and more mixed use – residential and retail – properties.

However, he does concede that this “painful process” won’t diminish the impact that physical stores can have on supporting online sales. He added: “Often the two things are intertwined as opposed to competing. Click and collect is a classic example of that, but so are returns.

“It turns out if you get people to bring things physically back they will go and buy something else – if they are returning by post they don’t necessarily do that.”

Grigg suggests 25% of floor space could be stripped out because then the “amount of eligible, effective retail starts to look much more sensible”.

This interview originally appeared in the Monday May 26 edition of the i newspaper.

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