Even before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the term ‘retail apocalypse’ began gaining widespread use amid the massive closures of brick-and-mortar retail stores due to the rapid growth of e-commerce and changing consumer patterns. In the United Kingdom, this phenomenon has crippled traditional shopping formats such as malls and high street retail. By December 2020, it was estimated that more than 15 thousand stores would cease operations. The lockdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak impact shopping centers additionally. As an example, Intu Properties PLC, one of the leading shopping center operators in the UK, entered administration in the first half of 2020.
The collapse of the UK’s biggest shopping center operator
Until 2020, Intu was the UK’s largest shopping center owner, with Intu Metrocentre in Gateshead, and the popular Intu Trafford Center in Manchester. Valued at nearly 1.9 billion British pounds, the Trafford Centre in Manchester was Intu’s most successful mall and the property which generated the highest income. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced some retailers to close their stores and others to delayed rent payments to Intu, the company failed to gain breathing space from its lenders and plunged into administration in June 2020.
The UK shopping center panorama
Intu’s two biggest competitors are Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (UMW) and Land Securities, who manage a large portfolio of shopping centers and retail parks across the United Kingdom. As of 2020, Land Securities owned over 10 shopping precincts spread all around the UK, with St David’s in Cardiff, its biggest shopping center surpassing 1.2 million square feet. In contrast, URW’s largest shopping center is Westfield London, with nearly 236 thousand square meters of Gross Leasable Area (GLA).
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In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 27 most important statistics relating to "Shopping centers in the United Kingdom (UK)".