What does 2022 have in store for retail property?


Retail property trends are a hot topic, as the sector continues to be dynamic in responding to new customer needs, and new players shake up the market. TFT is here to support our retail occupier, building owner and investor clients when their spaces need to change, or to ensure that new developments are set up for the future. Recently we’ve been involved with retail property instructions ranging from refurbishments and reconfigurations of shopping centres, retail parks and high street locations, as well as major new developments.

In summer 2021, we celebrated the opening of Edinburgh’s St James Quarter to the public. The project, which is Scotland’s largest and most significant mixed-use development project in a generation, is a landmark among the city’s retail and leisure offering which TFT monitored on behalf of the joint venture investors: Nuveen Real Estate and APG Asset Management.

After a mixed year for the sector, Retail Destination magazine spoke to Neil Wotherspoon, TFT Partner and head of our Edinburgh office, about the key retail property trends he’s watching in the months ahead. Here are some of his insights:

Supply chain disruption and changing expectations

The global supply chain has been heavily impacted by Covid, so delays and uncertainty around construction programmes remained even once sites were fully operational. one approach to mitigate that risk is by contractors buying materials in bulk to insulate from inflation further down the line.

As well as increasing material and labour costs, owners of retail property must consider the expectations and attitudes of their occupiers, which track customers’ changing priorities. As the shape of retail continues to shift, managing a portfolio requires some vision and investment, particularly for older centres which can be rejuvenated for a more modern clientele. Where those solutions can be found, they represent a more sustainable solution than demolition and development from scratch in many cases.

With no new retail developments coming through the pipeline, the focus will be on enhancing existing retail, particularly retail parks, to make it more experience-led and better adapted to a full day-out experience, coupled with convenience features.

I believe there is still cause for optimism although the reality is that landlords and developers will have to work harder than before. By creating mixed-use destinations including retail and leisure, operators and landlords can continue to perform well.

Neil Wotherspoon, Partner and head of TFT’s Edinburgh office

Check out Retail Destination’s article looking ahead to 2022, here.