200 shopping centres at risk of failure: What next for retail space in the UK?

Dr Gordon Fletcher, retail expert at the University of Salford Business School, comments on news that across the country 200 shopping centres are at risk of falling into administration.
Dr Fletcher said: “With the announcement in Monday’s budget that paves the way for conversion of retail space into residential and the news that 200 shopping centres in the UK are currently at risk of failing, the issues in the high street are spreading still wider.
“The high profile failure of many recognisable high street retailers combined with increasing in rents and rates have all contributed to the long slow decline of shopping centres as attractive spaces for shopping. The issue now for towns and their communities is that the large self-contained environments of shopping centres creates massive problems for the entire town centre when they fail or under-perform.
“Mass consumption is increasingly a thing of the past. This is the thinking that shopping centres are designed. Consumers are no longer satisfied by impersonal aisles of standardised items. Consumer preference for mass customisation lends itself to locations on the edge of town centres where rates and rentals can be lower and more flexible and not influenced by the constraints of an enclosed space. The Chancellor’s plan to convert underperforming retail spaces into residential property to return vibrancy and people to town centres may be a necessary last lifeline for the 200 centres currently at risk.” 
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