Subdued Retail Sector Weighs on Town Centre

As the recession continues to bite, business lettings in Eastleigh remain languishing in the doldrums as the recent consultation paper on the Eastleigh Town Access plan acknowledged, describing the Town Centre as ‘Underperforming’.

A report issued last week by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said economic growth in the third quarter was “considerably” slower than the previous quarter.

At the same time The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said retail sales growth slowed last month, with like-for-like sales up only 0.5% from a year ago. They added that consumer confidence was ‘fragile’ with little evidence of increased spending to beat the VAT rise planned for January.

The BRC have also warned that business rates for April 2011 will be based on last month’s RPI. Recent RPI figures of 4.6% would mean a larger than expected increase which many retailers may not have budgeted for.

Empty Shops and Offices

In January Eastleigh News ran a story entitled ‘Eastleigh’s Empty Shop Economy’ which reported a shocking 19 vacant shops and 13 offices in Eastleigh town centre.

Now, 10 months on the situation is hardly any better as a search on the Costar commercial property website shows 17 vacant shop units in the town centre and almost 40,000 sq feet of office space available.

Click to enlarge

In the borough as a whole, there are currently a total of 36 empty retail units and 29 offices.

Most notably there is office space available in the council owned Wessex House and Black Horse House both on Upper Market Street – and also in the former railway works building on Campbell Road.

In January the Daily Echo ran a story saying up to 400 jobs would be created by new tenants at the converted railway building – a claim that was repeated by the Liberal Democrats in their election material – but 10 months later, almost half of the building still remains unoccupied.

However despite the oversupply of commercial premises in Eastleigh the Council will shortly be considering planning applications for a Hotel on Station Hill (Cordwell/Travelodge) and leasehold OAP flats at the Pirelli site on Leigh Road (McCarthy & Stone) – both of which will feature further retail units as part of the development.

So, the answer to empty shop units is…build more shop units?


  3 comments for “Subdued Retail Sector Weighs on Town Centre

  1. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    October 16, 2010 at 11:42 am

    We have 5000 people on the housing list in Eastleigh and plenty of spare capacity in office units, retail units and hotel beds.
    What do the Council do? They cancel a plan to build 6000 new homes without putting an alternative plan in place and they invest instead in more shops, offices and hotels.
    Nice.

  2. peter stewart
    October 17, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    With all this office space, Eastleigh will be well placed to take advantage of the recovery when it comes!

    I like the Tax Payers Alliance. I like their calculation that shows our membership of the EU costs Britain £125 BILLION every year.

    If you compare that to our structural deficit for this year (estimated to be around £165 Billion last time I looked) then it is blindingly obvious that if we did as UKIP advised, and left the EU, we could convert our structural deficit into a structural SURPLUS within the 5 years this Tory Coalition has allocated to eliminate the deficit, except that doing it the UKIP way would mean NO PAINFUL CUTS! What’s more, by doing it the UKIP way, we can begin building up British manufacturing again.

  3. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    October 17, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    “With all this office space, Eastleigh will be well placed to take advantage of the recovery when it comes!”

    I think you are falling into the same trap as the council here Pete, in thinking the slump in office rentals is a blip and things are going to be as they once were soon.
    Office space rentals were under the cosh before the recession. That we are in a global recession and office space is in demand in India and singapore while the UK market declines should tell you that what is happening is a one way ticket.
    There is not much in the way of office work that cant be offshored and run for a fraction of the cost of retaining these functions in the UK.
    Most companies are outsourcing and or offshoring backroom services and preserving frontline with the exception of our council of course where the process is reversed – leisure, parks,street cleaning you name – it is outsourced while it is still castle camelot at the civic offices.
    Admin and legal services that could be outsourced are retained. Why for example do we have a press office? – if a multi million £ multi natonal like npower can use a PR company then I’m sure the council can. Why are we spending nearly £50k a year on a Climate control officer when other councils dont?
    We need to elect a strong leader to take an axe to council departments – they are not going to reform themselves.
    The chance to elect an independant mayor is such an opportunity.

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