Landlord says Regent Street will suffer in work-from-home revolution
Prime London retail destination Regent Street faces a rise in empty stores, damaged by the post-pandemic work-from-home trend, according to the Crown Estate.
One of the capital’s biggest commercial landlords has warned that footfall in central London remained significantly below pre-pandemic levels as home workers made fewer trips to top retail destinations, said The Telegraph newspaper.
Its view is backed up by Springboard that said this week working from home has caused “permanent scarring” to high street consumer footfall. Central London footfall was down by 22% in early May compared to pre-pandemic levels, it noted.
Regent Street has been one of the capital’s retail success stories over the last few years having attracted a host of major fashion retailers across the premium, mid, and value ends of the market with very few of its commercial properties remaining empty.
But Dan Labbad, chief executive of The Crown Estate, said the percentage of vacant properties on the street, or void rate, will rise.
He said that he thinks “we are going to see void rates go up over the next 12 months”, although he doesn't seem to be as worried as some landlords are. "That doesn't surprise or concern us”, he added.
Robert Allen, Crown Estate CFO, also said footfall in central London has remained about 38% below pre-pandemic levels during the financial year and that the organisation still had a “job getting London back on its feet”.
However, he added: "We've got a lot of confidence in the long term future of Regent Street. We've probably got a slightly bumpy 12-18 months ahead of us for the UK as a whole, and that will reflect in our portfolio. There will be years where Regent Street will do much better and look more resilient, and there will be years where Regent Street may tail behind some of the frothier bits of the market.
"But over the long term, I think we are very confident it will continue to perform, and it has been a great asset for The Crown Estate and frankly for the nation.”
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