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Retailers: the space race
Feb '08
UK retailing faces one of its toughest ever years as the sector attempts to come to terms with a dangerous cocktail of intense competition, space saturation, consumer apathy and slowing spend.

According to research from Verdict Consulting, a specialist division of Verdict Research the coincidence of these trends will mean that on a like-for-like basis, retail spend will contract in 2008 causing a significant number of causalities. Neil Saunders, Consulting Director, explains.

Over the past ten years the economic environment has been benign and its impact on retail has been positive. Even so, the retail sector has become increasingly competitive. In large part this has been due to the expansion of retail space which has given consumers more choice in where to shop and has spread consumer spend more thinly between a greater number of retailers and shopping locations.

Since 1998, net of closures, an additional 49m square feet of retail space has come into play. Although this is a substantial amount – the equivalent of well over 1,600 average sized Tesco supermarkets – solid growth rates for consumer spending made such growth economically viable.

However, going into 2008, the amount of retail space due to open shows no sign of abating despite the fact that retail spending is set to slow dramatically. Over 2008, an additional 9m square feet of space (net of closures) will open. While this new space is likely to trade well, it will do so to thedetriment of existing retail space. When the growth of the internet is taken into account, the amount of spend available for existing retail space will actually contract.

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Verdict Research

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