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Bigger R

etail investors could be forgiven for wishing that investing in shops was as easy as buying from them. But of course it’s not. And in 2013

anybody considering putting money into retail property faces an even more complicated market than usual. For a start, and most obviously, all is

not well with retailers themselves, at least not some of them. Several high street names have gone bust this year, notably HMV, Jessops and Blockbuster,

and although limited rescue efforts have been mounted, the empty stores left behind do not inspire confidence for the market as a whole. Even though some retailers are trading well, there is still a whiff of failure in the air. The internet is a constant threat, giving

rise to dire predictions of the death of traditional retail. Is the bricks-and- mortar shop waiting to expire or just undergoing radical change? Nobody wants to invest in a corpse-in-waiting. Those who do predict the end of the

high street are probably overdoing it, but shopping is clearly altering profoundly and that has implications

the banking crash” Simon Williams, BNP Paribas Real Estate


A taste of Italy in China: Florentia Village luxury shopping outlet park, Wuqing, near Tianjin

38 Summer 2013

It is not just in the UK that shopping centres are in favour, the world is in love with malls. According to CBRE, shopping centre development activity worldwide has increased 15% this year. This is heavily driven by China, but even in Europe, 2012 shopping centre development was 10% up year-on-year to 17.1m sq ft. The most active areas of Europe are Istanbul, which is building 32 malls, and Russia.

Post-crash, anxious investors are wary of putting their money into retail – but big developments and high-end sites are still pulling them in. David Harris reports

is better

for those who invest in retail property. Simon Williams, head of retail investment

at BNP Paribas Real Estate, says: “The retail investment market continues to be affected by a combination of consumer recession and a structural change in the way consumers access products. Investors are more risk-aware as a result of the altered dynamics of the property market following the banking crash.” For now, the big investors seem to be

investing in big things, with shopping centres a more favoured target than individual stores. The main message seems to be to invest in what you can control most easily and make sure you

“Investors are more risk-aware owing to the altered dynamics of the market after

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