It’s a blood bath. The big retailers took too much space and now they can’t afford it, and it’s killing them. Toys R Us and Maplin are the latest corpses. House of Fraser, Debenhams and New Look are eying huge closures of stores or space to stay alive.
What an opportunity for anyone who still needs to be on the high street to physically deliver their service — like dentists. The massive oversupply of retail space might give you the chance to run a far bigger practice in a far more central location than you ever dreamed possible. Or set up a cooperative with an entrepreneurial hairdresser, masseuse and chiropractor.
It has been estimated that a fifth of retail space will need to close as in-store sales keep falling, as seen in the Office for National Statistics’ latest report. Declining real wages, record consumer debt and more internet spending are some of the reasons. More people are buying local and often too, avoiding weekly shops in megastores.
But people still need to visit the dentist, the vet, the dietician, the optician. The redundant retail space, meanwhile, sits idle. Two years after it fell into administration, a third of BHS’s 160 stores remain empty and 30 have no tenants or development plans. Empty department stores are hard to fill because there’s little demand for such large spaces.
Making them more appealing, by breaking them up or converting them, is costly, and so they have become giant albatrosses around the necks of those who built them or signed the lease. These people are desperate and are going to be interested in exceptional deals. Debenhams, for instance, is in talks to rent floor space to flexible-office provider WeWork as it looks to scale back its high street presence.
Long term, of course, all of this means lower entry costs for dentists, but if you’d like to act sooner and create a shortlist of potential one-off deals in your area, we can help.