Discount stores lead occupancy at ex-Woolworths stores, new data reveals

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Hopkinson: encouraging occupancy levels

Hopkinson: encouraging occupancy levels

Discount stores have increased their occupancy of former Woolworths stores the most in the last 12 months, figures form the Local Data Company reveal. 

Discount retailers now occupy 29% of the former Woolworths estate, up 7% on January 2011. Supermarkets have increased their share by 2% to 17% in the same period. 

By retailer, frozen food chain Iceland has picked up the largest number of stores with 7% of the total. However, Poundland and Poundstretcher have recorded the strongest occupancy gains in the last 12 months. Poundlands’ share of stores has risen from 4% to 7%, while Poundstretcher now has a 3% share, up from 1% in 2011.

According to the Local Data Company, the number of vacant ex-Woolworths stores has reduced to 13% of the total in the three years since the chain went out of business.

The number of demolished properties has risen from 1.3% in January 2011 to 8.4% in January 2012, it added.

Table 1. National Woolworths vacant stores rate

               Jul-09 Jul-10 Jan-11 Jan-12
UK 60% 40% 30% 13%

Table 2. Regional Woolworths vacant stores rate

Region Jul-09 Jul-10 Jan-11 Jan-12
East Midlands 67% 44% 28% 13%
East of England 74% 46% 42% 18%
Greater London 48% 16% 13% 8%
North East 90% 45% 35% 26%
North West 62% 41% 38% 7%
Northern Ireland 50% 50% 47% 38%
Scotland 80% 54% 33% 19%
South East 76% 41% 27% 13%
South West 75% 40% 27% 11%
Wales 65% 40% 32% 8%
West Midlands 70% 44% 32% 15%
Yorkshire & Humber 58% 36% 18% 5%

Table 3. Total % occupancy by retailer

Retailer Ex-Woolworths units occupied (%)
Jan-11 Jan-12
Iceland 7% 7%
99p Stores 5% 6%
Poundland 4% 7%
B&M Bargains 4% 5%
Poundstretcher 1% 3%
Tesco Express 2% 3%
Original Factory Shop 3% 3%

Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said: “It is encouraging to see 87% of the old Woolworths shops now occupied. It reflects the fact Woolworths was once the anchor store in many centres and the current market has enabled greater opportunity for retailers to relocate to more prime locations due to high shop vacancy rates. 

“The significant rise in the number of demolished properties is noteworthy and may be connected to empty rates relief being abolished and the state of the market in these tertiary locations with little or no retail demand.”