Bluewater slips off top spot in retail ranking

Kent shopping centre Bluewater, near Dartford, has slipped from its position as the most attractive shopping centre in England in the face of tough retail conditions, new research reveals.

Trevor Wood Associates has published the latest edition of its regular report Going Shopping – The Definitive Guide to Shopping Centres. This report ranks Britain’s top 500 shopping centres on their overall attractiveness to customers, based on factors including their size, tenants, weekly footfall and other facilities.

Bluewater is owned by Prudential, Lend Lease and Hermes, and has been named the UK’s 4th most attractive shopping centre, having slipped from top spot in 2011. The most attractive centre is Westfield Stratford City in east London, which opened last year. Bluewater has also been overtaken by Westfield London in Shepherds Bush and Gateshead’s MetroCentre.

Shopping centres in the southeast outside London that improved their rankings include The Harlequin in Watford, which has risen three places to 23rd; The Oracle in Reading, which has risen six places to 30th; and WestQuay in Southampton, which has risen one place to 33rd.

Across the whole of the UK, the research shows how the recession is having a big impact on the mix of tenants in major shopping centres.

High street chemist Boots is now rated as the leading tenant in UK shopping centres, climbing from third place in the table, and replacing ailing chain Clinton Cards, which dropped from top to 17th position.

Struggling computer game retailer Game has also dropped out of the top ten, while new entrants to the top ten include Costa Coffee, Card Factory and Phones 4 U.

Trevor Wood Associates also shows how the recession has taken a toll on the pipeline of new developments, which is at its lowest level since this piece of research was first published in 1998. The retail property specialist identified just 87 proposed new schemes or major extensions to existing schemes that are thought likely to proceed before the end of 2019.

These include the 295,000 sq ft scheme Whiteley Village in Hampshire town Fareham, due to complete next year, with tenants such as Boots, H & M, Marks & Spencer, Next and Tesco.