30 June 2022/ Retail Guide

Find your next retail property in Edinburgh

Discover your next retail property to rent in Edinburgh.

From its narrow, cobbled alleys to its imposing castle, elegant Georgian townhouses and grand civic squares, there’s history around every corner in Edinburgh. The Scottish capital’s fascinating heritage and cultural attractions – including its annual international arts festival – have made it the UK’s second-most visited tourist destination after London. More than four million visitors, with a spending potential of around £1.5 billionvisit this vibrant, bustling city all year round.

With both its medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Edinburgh is known for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Once nicknamed ‘Auld Reekie’ (Scottish for Old Smokey) due to its smoggy air, today Edinburgh is one of the UK’s greenest cities, with acres of parks and gardens.

No trip to Edinburgh would be complete without a stroll along its most famous street – the Royal Mile – which links Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace (the official Scottish residence of HM The Queen). Here you can experience the buzzing heart of the city, with lively pubs, a range of restaurants and shops selling everything from traditional Scottish knitwear to antique jewellery and Celtic crafts.

What’s more, figures from Edinburgh Council show that this welcoming city is a place where businesses flourish, with five-year survival rates of new businesses higher than most other UK cities, which makes it a great location to set up shop.

Explore where retail properties in Edinburgh could take your business

Retail opportunities in and around Edinburgh

From luxury brands and high street names to bijou boutiques and intriguing independents – in Edinburgh, you can shop till you drop.

The latest shopping experience can be found at the St James Quarter. This glitzy, four-storey shopping centre hosts more than 40 retailers, including John Lewis, Breitling, H&M, Kate Spade and Pandora.

Home to flagship stores such as M&S, Primark, Clarks and Dr Martens, Princes Street has the latest in high street fashion. Situated only a minute’s walk from Princes Street, William Street offers designer fashion boutiques, organic food retailers and home interiors outlets.

Multrees Walk is the definition of luxury shopping in Edinburgh. Home of Scotland’s only Harvey Nichols – Victoria Beckham, Balenciaga and Stella McCartney are all on display – as well as Louis Vuitton stores, along with many other exclusive brands.

Beneath Edinburgh Castle you’ll find a buzzing shopping area, brimming with Scottish designers, artisans and independents. Victoria Street also has a parade of independent shops – this narrow, winding thoroughfare is even said to be the inspiration for Harry Potter author J K Rowling’s Diagon Alley.

There are also plenty of shopping options on the outskirts of the city. At the heart of Edinburgh's flagship waterfront regeneration, Ocean Terminal is a state-of-the-art complex with 45,000 sq m of shopping and leisure accommodation. To the west, close to the airport, the Gyle shopping centre spans 20 hectares with 27,870 sq m of retail space accommodating more than 45 shops and food outlets.

There are all sorts of things to see and do in Edinburgh

If you’d like to step back into Edinburgh’s past, visit The Georgian House on Charlotte Square, which has been beautifully restored to show a typical Edinburgh New Town house of the late 18th century. Like to look at the stars? The Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill will afford you a closer look at the night sky over Edinburgh. And for fans of the wizarding world, the Department of Magic offers two immersive escape games.

A night out in Edinburgh – with its heady mix of lively cocktail bars and vibrant pubs – is like no other. Live music fans are spoilt for choice. The Queen's Hall hosts performances of classical, jazz, folk and roots and Americana. The Captain’s Bar and The Black Cat offer lively folk music performances, along with craft ales, and George IV Bar is the place to be for everything from folk and ceilidh to Motown and Indie.

With an array of outstanding and award-winning eateries, dining out in Edinburgh is a delight. Check out Gordon Ramsey’s first restaurant in Edinburgh, Bread Street Kitchen and Bar, which opened in 2021, with specialities such as beef wellington and rare-breed steaks. A short walk from Edinburgh Castle is The Witchery, which serves up Scottish seafood and a legendary Angus beef steak tartare. For tasty, comfort food, you can’t beat Union of Genuis, which has 100 delicious soups on the menu. Or stop by Mum’s, which serves 12 varieties of mash, four selections of sausages and three different kinds of gravy.

And if you’re looking to work off last night’s indulgences, there are more than 40 gyms across Edinburgh, catering to every kind of fitness fan, from affordable chains such as Xercise4Less and Anytime Fitness, to upmarket options including David Lloyd and Nuffield Health.

Great transport links make Edinburgh a fantastic retail location

Edinburgh is well connected by road

The M8 is the main artery between Edinburgh and Glasgow, while the A1 to Berwick-upon-Tweed continues to London. Linking these two routes is the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass, which skirts the southern fringes of the city.

Trains connect Edinburgh to Glasgow, Aberdeen, Birmingham and London

The main station is Waverley, which is between the Old and New Towns. The second-largest station is Haymarket, located in the West End. There are connections to a network of smaller stations, making train travel an efficient and viable option.

Edinburgh has an extensive bus network

Most services are operated by Lothian Buses, particularly in the city centre, but suburban services are also operated by Stagecoach, Scottish Citylink and Bordered Buses. The main bus station is adjacent to the main train station in Old Town, just a short walk from Holyrood Palace.

Edinburgh’s modern tram service is a great way to get around

Introduced in 2014, this award-winning, cutting-edge service connects you to 15 destinations within the city in a matter of minutes and also runs to Edinburgh Airport.

Nearby airports connect Edinburgh to the rest of the world

Located just eight miles west of the city centre – it’s a 30-minute journey by bus, tram or car – Edinburgh Airport connects you to more than 120 destinations across the globe.

Business amenities and hotels in Edinburgh

From affordable chains, such as Travelodge and Premier Inn, to mid-priced options, such as the Hampton by Hilton Edinburgh West End, the Frederick House Hotel and Cityroomz Edinburgh, there’s plenty of choice. Or for a stay in five-star luxury, try The Balmoral or Prestonfield House, a country house hotel in a 20-acre private park, just 10 minutes drive from Princes Street.

Whether you need an intimate space for 10 colleagues or an impressive venue for hundreds, there is a wide range of bookable meeting spaces available across Edinburgh. In the heart of the Old Town, Fraser Suites Edinburgh provides a versatile meeting room, complete with projectors and wall screens Meeting Rooms, Edinburgh, just five minutes walk from Waverley Station, has flexible catering, on-site technical support and dedicated spaces catering for two to 200 people.

Notable retail tenants in Edinburgh

  • M&S
  • Harvey Nichols
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Next
  • John Lewis
  • Hamleys

The future of retail space in Edinburgh

Research by independent commercial property consultancy Knight Frank found that Edinburgh had the most productive retail space of any major UK city outside of London, with the Scottish capital achieving a ‘sales density’ of £665 per sq ft before the opening of the new St James Quarter shopping centre in 2021. The findings suggest that, despite the recent challenges of the pandemic, Edinburgh’s retail offering has proven resilient, and the city looks set to remain among the UK’s top shopping destinations.

Property agent, Savills, notes that Edinburgh continues to attract new retail brands, with George Street recently welcoming the likes of Helly Hansen and Sea Salt, and a number of other brands keen to secure representation on the street. The agent predicts that Edinburgh’s unique blend of experiences, along with its appeal as being one of the most picturesque cities in Europe, will continue to attract premium retailers, enticed by its year-round footfall and tourism.

Find your next retail property to rent in Edinburgh

Key retail property agents in Sheffield

  • Knight Frank
  • Savills
  • Avison Young
  • IME DJK
  • Edinburgh Commercial Property
  • Strutt & Parker

Where to learn more

We have many articles and guides on the retail industry, covering everything from trends and useful information, such as how the pandemic changed retail forever and high streets vs shopping centres to sought-after locations. We recommend reading about emerging ESG trends in retail and key industry trends for 2022 to stay at the forefront of retail.