A week on the high street - 4th January 2022
Date published: Date modified: 2022-02-08

retail

Consumer spending over 2021 rose 5.9% compared with 2019. According to Barclaycard’s latest figures, online spend rose 88% in March 2021. Restrictions also drove a 62% increase in spending on takeaways and fast food, and a 97% rise in online grocery shopping peaking in March 2021. In line with reported consumer trends, spend on streaming subscriptions and pet retailers rose over the year. Jose Carvalho, head of consumer products at Barclaycard, said: “As we look ahead to 2022, the economy will face fresh challenges from rising household bills, inflation and uncertainty about the new Covid variant… [but] consumers and businesses are capable of adapting to and overcoming immense hardship and adversity.”

The new owners of department store Selfridges, Signa and Central, plan to develop a luxury hotel and serviced apartments on the Oxford Street site. There are also plans to upgrade the existing food hall. Peter Williams, a former Selfridges chief executive, said: “The food hall is frankly underexploited, and the hotel has been empty for over a decade, so definitely that is an opportunity.”

LEISURE

Northern Ireland has announced a £40m support package for hospitality businesses affected by pandemic restrictions. It was announced before Christmas that grants of between £10,000 and £20,000 will be made available for businesses, with amounts dependent on net annual value. The scheme follows announcements that nightclubs will close and indoor hospitality settings can only host seated customers, in groups of no more than six (or ten from a single household). The hospitality industry responded unfavourably to the support offered by the UK Government, which included grants of up to £6,000 and the return of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences, which has been criticised as inadequate.

PROPERTY

Landsec has bought a stake in Bluewater shopping centre. The commercial landlord, which already owns a third of the Kent shopping centre, paid £172m for Lendlease’s 25 per cent stake. This implies a total valuation of £688m, significantly lower than its implied valuation of £2.9bn in 2014. This change reflects a difficult period for shopping centres, although some believe the market will not see a further decline. Landsec has posted its first profit since the pandemic began, driven by a recovery in office and retail park values. Bruce Findlay, managing director of retail at Landsec, said that “rents have fallen and are sustainable at today’s levels,” adding, “We’re seeing the opportunity.” He also said that the Lendlease deal simplified the ownership of Bluewater, and that Landsec planned to carry out renovations to the centre and further tilt the mix of tenants towards leisure and hospitality.


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