Up to 70 of the UK’s shopping centres face closure and redevelopment due to shifting consumer habits

Published on: 7th June 2021

Around 70 shopping centres across the UK are facing the threat of closure owing to the longer lasting impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the lean into online shopping over the past year.

Reports suggest that over-expansion of retail space must also be factored in when assessing the current health of the UK’s shopping centre sector, with the future of some ten per cent of the UK’s 700 shopping centres now in the balance. It is believed that a number of the centre built in the 1970s and ’80s will be at least partly redeveloped into homes, offices, or for other uses.

According to a Local Data Company (LDC) analysis of centres in England, Scotland, and Wales, at least 30 shopping centres in the UK are now at a minimum half empty, including five that are now more than 80 per cent vacant. A further 34 have between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of their shops vacant, with at least 10 shops in them.

Shopping centres across the UK have been dealt a blow by the coronavirus pandemic that has not only seen forced lockdowns shut major retail destinations like themselves, but has also driven consumers to online shopping, as well as a new preference for staying local in the midst of social restrictions.

“There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the challenges we were seeing across the physical retail environment, with shopping centres having been particularly exposed to categories in decline, such as fashion and casual dining,” LDC commercial director Lucy Stainton said.

It’s according to the head of retail research at Knight Frank, Stephen Springham, that 10 per cent of the UK’s shopping centres are no longer viable. Springham also believes that a further 20 to 30 per cent will need a ‘significant overhaul’, with shops retained, but large portions of each given up for homes, offices, and other uses.

A number of the UK’s shopping centres already set for development include the likes of Nottingham’s Broadmarsh, where demolition starts this month, Stockton’s Castlegate, the Riverside Centre in Shrewsbury, the Chilterns Centre in High Wycombe, and Nicholsons in Maidenhead.


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