High Street

Cambridge named UK’s ‘leading retail location’ for second time

Cambridge has again been named as the UK’s leading retail location according to a list scoring Britain’s best and worst retail centres.

The university city topped a list of 1,000 retail centres, compiled by strategic retail property consultancy, Harper Dennis Hobbs (HDH).

The HDH 2019 Vitality Index determines the retail health of a shopping area based on the proportion of upmarket and discount stores, vacancy rates, as well as the number of less aspirational tenants, such as pawnbrokers, money lenders and bookmakers.

According to the firm, the suitability to the local shopper is a “key factor”, meaning that the presence of low-end retailers is “not necessarily a bad thing”, as long as the local area consists largely of residents that “prioritise value for money”.

Cambridge – which also took first place in 2017 when the last Vitality Index was published – saw off competition from retail destinations in London, including Westfield London and Knightsbridge.

Jonathan De Mello, head of retail consultancy at Harper Dennis Hobbs, said: “The Vitality Ranking is a unique approach to assessing retail centres. By scoring centres based upon a number of aspects that both retailers and shoppers think of when they consider a quality retail environment, HDH provide a different perspective to rankings based solely on size or total sales.

“The changing face of the high street means retailers need to be confident their investment is likely to pay off. Quality retailers don’t want to be surrounded by empty units, discount stores and betting shops, which are a clear indicator of deprivation in the area.”

CEO James Ebel added: “This latest piece of research from HDH shows that Cambridge city centre continues to be the healthiest retail district in Britain. The city benefits from its heritage as a centre for academia, as well as its location – less than an hour from London – which draws day-trippers as well as affluent residents.”

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