19 April 2022/ Retail Guide

Find your next retail property to rent in London

Discover your next retail property in London

London is one of the fashion capitals of the world. So, it is little wonder that it is home to some of the best retail destinations in the UK, if not the whole of Europe. That’s not all. London is also well known for its department stores, from Selfridges to Liberty to Fortnum & Mason, which bring prestige to the capital’s retail sector.

As a sprawling capital city, London offers retail opportunities for businesses of all sizes. There are large units in the buzzing centre, ideal for those big brands wanting to create a leading store. There are small units on local high streets for independents keen to get a space where there is high footfall. There are also designated areas known for different products, like Hatton Gardens for jewellers. It is also worth bearing in mind that many retail stores across the capital have been transformed into eateries, such as coffee shops and delis. You will find an abundance of opportunities across London to bring even more of these popular pitstops to much-loved high streets.

Given London’s status as a shopping destination, lots of brands use their stores in the capital as flagship stores. Here they might showcase their latest products, with large window displays to present them in the most eye-catching way. Many are also using their London stores to create a more immersive shopping experience in response to pressure from online retail. We have seen stores with customisation suites and others with zones to try out different equipment, which is particularly popular among the tech giants. In the London retail world, ‘going big’ is encouraged.

When you consider a city as large as London, it can be difficult to pinpoint where exactly you need to base your store. In this guide, we take you through the possibilities and practicalities of renting retail space in the capital.

Explore where London’s retail properties could take your business

Gallery for Lewisham Shopping Centre, Lewisham Centre, London-1

London shops and retail properties to rent

London has distinct areas that act has hubs for retail. We have a range of properties available to rent in these areas that can help you take your business to its next stage of growth.

In the city’s central areas, there are grand retail buildings dotted near Oxford Street, Regent Street and Carnaby Street – the focal point of shopping in London. Many of these spaces span multiple floors, providing ample space to showcase products and store stock. These large spaces also offer an opportunity to create different zones and experiences for your audience.

Kensington also has a bustling retail scene, but here you will find slightly smaller stores. They suit independents with flourishing businesses that want to be in the heart of this prestigious area of London as well as more well-known brands that want to capitalise on the high street’s high footfall.

In Covent Garden – the tourist location – there are stores in historic buildings along with units in purpose-built space. This location is ideal for shops selling the likes of homewares and boutique fashion as well as bakeries and coffee shops.

London’s retail scene is not only about the city’s centre. Popular residential and business areas have high streets of their own where many business owners enjoy great success from local clientele. In the west of London, you could consider Notting Hill or Fulham if you want to make your mark on a high street. In the east, Shoreditch, Hackney and Dalston each have their own high streets that are continuing to grow in popularity. If you are looking north, you could consider popular Camden Town or Islington. South of the River Thames, Clapham, Brixton and Peckham are well-established residential areas with high streets to match.

Excellent transport makes London a fantastic retail location

London has an excellent underground system

Thanks to the tube network, retail destinations across London are well connected to the rest of the capital. In fact, you can ride the underground from one end of Oxford Street to the other. With 272 underground stations and 112 overground stations, you can expect to be close to at least one if you base your store within the parameters of the network. This is important for the retail sector. Not only do you need good transport links for staff members to reach your store, but your customers will also rely on the network to reach you – especially if they intend on buying lots of items that are difficult to carry on foot.

Buses across London are regular and reliable

Even if you choose a retail site that is outside of London’s underground network, you can rely on the bus network to get around. These are the iconic red buses and they are a popular alternative to the underground. All buses are cash-free, so you can simply tap your payment card (debit, credit or Oyster card) to get around. If you ever need to leave your store later in the evening, you can look for buses with the letter ‘N’ next to the bus route number – this means they run 24 hours a day.

London operates low-emission zones for drivers

To reduce air pollution, it now costs drivers to use roads across the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (£12.50 daily for all vehicles) and the Low Emission Zone (£100 daily for the highest polluting vehicles). There is also a congestion charge in place if you travel through the central zone at busy times of day. Due to these charges, many business owners prefer to use public transport to get around.

Amenities in London are vast

Popular offices in London make retail more attractive

High streets in London are often home to a mix of office and retail space, and each bounces off the other. Places with lots of offices mean high levels of footfall for the retail stores, especially for the likes of coffee shops and cafes around lunch time.

If you also need office space to run the operational side of your retail business, you will find a diverse array of options in London. They range from large rooms within historic buildings to purpose-built sites, and you can find them across the capital. It is also possible to rent desk space in coworking buildings, which brings the added benefit of flexibility that many retail businesses need.

You can read more about different kinds of office space in London here.

London has lots of industrial space designed for retail businesses

As well as the striking retail space you want to draw in customers, your retail business might require industrial space to hold additional stock. If this rings true for you, London offers this practical space dotted around the city. For something close to the centre, you could focus your search on Bethnal Green and Camden Town where we have a number of properties available. Just south of the river, Vauxhall and Battersea also often have light industrial spaces on offer. On the outskirts of the city, the likes of Wembley, Greenwich, Barking, Croydon and Enfield are popular options with both small and large facilities to choose from.

You can learn more about renting industrial space in London here.

There are lots of useful amenities for retail businesses across London

One key benefit of being in London is getting a taste for its buzzing atmosphere. While you work on growing your business in the capital, you can treat yourself and your staff to everything from delicious meals to the theatre trips to evenings at a museum or gallery. Not only are these amenities there for you to enjoy, but they also bring millions of visitors to the city every year.

Almost 90% of all tourists in London visit at least one attraction during their stay. To give you a picture of their popularity, 14 million people a year attend theatre shows in London and the Natural History Museum is the fourth biggest visitor attraction in the whole of the UK. By basing your retail business in London, you could benefit from the high level of custom that tourism and these attractions bring.

Notable retail tenants and parks in London

London’s thriving retail economy is set to go from strength to strength as regeneration projects create new retail destinations across the capital. To give examples, a recent £400 million deal will see a mall in Kingston redeveloped into a mixed-use space and another investment will see an office site in Fitzrovia transformed into a mix of office and retail space. Given that investment is being pumped into London’s retail sector, we expect it to continue to be a key location for businesses looking to open their doors – or new doors – in the near future.

New retail tenants that come to the city over the coming months can expect to be alongside notable others including:

  • Selfridges
  • Samsung
  • John Lewis
  • Adidas
  • French Connection
  • Fenwick
  • MAC Cosmetics

Key retail agents in London

  • Colliers
  • Savills
  • Cushman & Wakefield
  • CF Commercial
  • Jenkins Law

Facts about London’s retail scene

  • London has over 40,000 stores and 26 major street markets.
  • It is estimated that shoppers spend 6% longer in London stores than those in the rest of the UK.
  • When shopping in Liberty, you may notice emblems dotted around the walls. These represent key figures in British history, including William Shakespeare and the six wives of Henry VIII.
  • Selfridges is the largest store in Oxford Street with 650,000 sq ft of retail space.
  • The upmarket department store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented the scotch egg in 1738.

Where to learn more

We have many articles and guides on the retail industry, covering everything from trends 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.