Empty-shop rate improves but town footfall is down
MORE than two-thirds of the retail units in the town centre highlighted by this newspaper a year ago as being available for rent or sale remain on the market – and many of them are still empty.
Other shops have also been added to the list in the past 12 months, with a number of prominent sites hitting the market in recent months. They include various town centre retail units that have been put up for sale.
Figures overall, however, show that Jersey’s empty shop rate has improved slightly and stands at 1.56%. That compares to 2.2% this time last year and a current UK average of 10.3%.
Footfall on the highstreet, however, is down 0.8% when compared to last year – a figure that the head of retail at Jersey Business, Lorie Rault, has described as a ‘concern’.
The properties that remain empty 12 months after a special report by the JEP – which highlighted what it costs to rent on Jersey’s highstreet – include the former Next shop in Queen Street, the old Bellingham Travel and Checkers Express stores in Bath Street and a ground-floor unit in the Co-op development at Charing Cross.
The Monsoon shop, which neighbours the old Next site, is also currently being marketed for rental.
The rent has been dropped on the Hamons shop in King Street by £50,000 compared to the asking price a year ago, as the owners continue to struggle to find someone to take over the store, which first announced its intention to close 11 years ago.
Next door, 35 King Street – the Jack Wills store – is among the other stores being advertised for rent. It is available for £115,000 a year. The future of the British clothing retailer remains uncertain after the business went bust in August but was later bought out of administration by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct for £13m. The Jersey branch is run by Sandpiper, which declined to comment when asked about the future of the shop.
Three out of 14 properties highlighted by this newspaper a year ago have, however, had new life breathed into them. They include 12 La Motte Street, which is now homeware and furniture shop Home & Style, the old Airtel-Vodafone shop in New Street which is now a café and the old Steve Wellum Photography site in the Parade, which has reopened as Autism Jersey’s charity shop. During the same period Superdrug has also taken over the former Mothercare shop and Sandpiper’s Card Factory has opened further up the road.
Ms Rault said there were a number of factors at play when looking at empty and available shops in the town centre.
‘Some of the properties that have been empty for a year are still under lease, ie the rent is still being paid in full by the business that has left the property,’ she said.
‘Another factor is the shift in footfall towards Charing Cross due to the offices that have been developed at that end of town, elevating rents in that area but reducing the rental value of properties in Queen Street and beyond. This means difficult negotiations for both interested parties and landlords. Footfall for St Helier is down, -0.8 % cumulatively against 2018, which is a concern, but is a lot stronger than England’s -2.1%.’
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