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IPE Real Estate: "Retail UK: Lights out at the mall" (Alas poor Hammerson!)

"Shopping centres specialists have been investing heavily in a changing world. But the outlook for the sector still looks gloomy."

"The rise of modern in-town shopping centres in the UK first gained traction in the 1960s with schemes such as the Bull Ring in Birmingham (which was redeveloped in 2003), and out-of-town schemes in the 1970s such as Brent Cross in North London. The explosion of development since then is the direct result of a shift in shopping habits favouring shopping centres over traditional high streets, many of which have been displaced.

"Good-quality UK shopping centres have long been favoured by investors wanting exposure to landlord-friendly leases providing stable income streams. Leading up to the Great Recession, shopping centres experienced three decades of almost uninterrupted growth, during which London offices rents were both volatile and range-bound.

"However, this trend in rental growth has slowed and may even be reversing, as physical retail sales growth and tenant densities have stalled for the better part of a decade. The change in fortune for physical retail was initially driven by a fall in disposable incomes resulting from the global financial crisis. But the deeper rooted – and more serious – issue is the disruption caused by growth in e-commerce."

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