Covid gives rise to out of town retail renaissance

Marina Quay Retail Park, Rhyl

There is absolutely no doubt that the past 12 months have been some of the most challenging on record for businesses, not least of all those in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.

But while the high street continues to struggle with a monumental identity crisis, accelerated by the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, out of town retail parks are experiencing somewhat of a renaissance.

A recent report by Savills found store openings in out of town parks to be above average over the last five years, a statistic leading property developer and investor, Scarborough Development Group (SDG), attests to.

SDG owns several out of town retail parks across the UK, including Marina Quay in Rhyl and The Springs in Leeds, and has agreed a number of new store openings at both locations during the past 12 months. The latest of which was to discount retailer B&M, which recently took occupancy of a 26,000 sq ft unit at Marina Quay, adding to a strong line-up of brands including Aldi, The Range, Farm Foods and Greggs.

Jack Abou-Jaoude, Development Executive at SDG, commented:

“Like many businesses, we continue to face challenges as a result of Covid-19 but every crisis presents an opportunity and the Pandemic appears to have kickstarted a renaissance within the out of town retail market.

“Due to the nature of their location, out of town retail parks are usually accessed by car so benefit from ample, free parking. They also typically contain larger, more spacious store formats than the high street which are more conducive to social distancing and have made them more appealing in current times.

“The lower rents compared with town centre locations means they generally attract discount retailers, many of which are classed as essential and are permitted to remain open during lockdown. Such has been the success of these retailers in recent months they have garnered somewhat of a cult following, we expect out of town locations to remain popular once social distancing restrictions come to an end, particularly as shoppers continue to favour value as the economy recovers.”

Marina Quay is a highly-desirable new retail and leisure destination located at the heart of the popular North Wales seaside resort town of Rhyl. There are currently just three units of between 1,500 and 6,000 sq ft remaining on the park. However, the outline consent provides for a future phase comprising up to 20,000 sq ft of retail space, which SDG may look to develop once the scheme is fully let.