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This week has been quite a revealing week for the retail industry with some of the
There have been some clear successes. House of Fraser, John Lewis, Sainsbury's, New Look, SuperGroup, Debenhams, Majestic Wine, Foyles, Morrisons and JD Sports have all reported increased like-for-like sales figures.
But there was a more worrying picture being painted by the likes of Home Retail Group, Tesco, Mothercare, Halfords and Thorntons, which all flagged up falling sales. Some of these lacklustre results come despite widespread discounting in the run up to Christmas, which will have hit retailers' pockets.
A clear opportunity or warning sign (depending if your glass is half full or half empty) for both retailers and landlords to pick out of these results lies in the blossoming online sales figures. They helped some retailers push through a tough trading period.
John Lewis said: "Our very successful multichannel and online operations have been at the heart of John Lewis' performance. All three John Lewis markets were instrumental in driving sales in this area, with johnlewis.com outperforming its market and seeing 27.2% growth."
"As the 'Click and Collect' facility has proved to be so popular, from next month the number of collection outlets will more than double to 116, including collection points in 84 Waitrose branches, with more being planned."
Debenhams' like-for-like sales increased by 1.4% including VAT in the 18 weeks to 7 January 2012. However, its online business, which it says is a key component of its multi-channel offer, delivered like-for-like sales increase of 34.8%.
Ellen Flood, retail expert from Shopow says: "The internet is developing as a key element of the retail landscape. Online shopping offers shoppers an incredible amount of choice, convenience and savings."
"What we will see this year is the evolution of the high street with leading retailers changing their approach, and in many cases their product lines, to reflect the tastes of the modern shopper."
Poor Croydon. The town centre is crying out for a cohesive, coherent retail-led regeneration strategy but, judging by this week's events, I suspect it will be some time before a happy conclusion is reached.
It transpired that Royal London and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, which together own 75% of the long leasehold and the management of the mall, had no idea that
The new agreement has all the potential to frustrate IBRC in particular, since it has been advised by Jones Lang LaSalle throughout 2011 on a strategy both for its stake and the wider redevelopment of the Whitgift shopping centre.
The indications so far are that the brewing storm will accelerate Royal London and IBRC's ambitions to seek out their own development partner for the mall.
Now you can bet that Hammerson, the new owner of neighbouring shopping mall Centrale, and Minerva, which long held ambitions to develop out a neighbouring Croydon retail scheme,
So which investor - developer will catch Royal London and IBRC's eye? And what will be the reality of having potentially two parallel development agendas for one shopping centre?
For those familiar with the development of Croydon town centre, this will be just another twist in a long-running saga. But for those new to the scene: watch this space. You're in for a ride.
The retail property sector is set for another bruising as the Office for National Statistics' confirmed this morning that the retail prices index rose to 5.6% in September - the highest annual inflation rate for over 20 years.
The BRC estimates that the new RPI figure threatens to land the retail sector with a £350m business rates increase next April since the uniform business rate is set taking into account the RPI inflation rate at September 2011.
This of course comes at a time when retailers are already grappling with an increase in VAT, low bank lending levels and fragile consumer confidence.
BCSC has been quick to pounce, warning that high levels of business rates will impact retailers' expansion plans. It will in turn also affect the viability of retail development, which is dependent on securing retailers and acceptable levels of rental income.
BCSC, in its letter to local government minister Bob Neill today, writes: "As occupiers' business rates liability continues to increase, a greater share of occupancy costs will be absorbed by rates, eroding potential rental values and therefore the viability of proposed developments."
It is evidently time for the government to start paying closer attention to its independent review of the