6 May 2022/ Retail Guide

Find your next retail property to rent in Manchester

Discover your next retail property in Manchester

Boasting one of the most diverse and prosperous city centres in the country, Manchester’s retail sector is a massive attraction for domestic and international tourists, who flock to this bustling area that employed more than 136,000 retail workers across the Greater region in 2019. But despite more than 1,200 businesses operating in the city centre alone, the face of retail is changing everywhere, making decisions on renting property more important than ever.

As well as offering a cheaper alternative to the high street retail rentals in London, tenants will also have the city’s perpetually expansive wealth at their fingertips, as Manchester is home to the most UK millionaires outside of the capital. Yet many units throughout the city remain reasonably priced, averaging at £30.08 per square foot. 

Not just a culturally significant location, Manchester has also been a leader in the commercial sector. With its national importance stemming back to the industrial revolution, this city has the world’s first industrial estate, Trafford Park, shaping the landscape for modern production in the UK. A gateway between London and the other northern powerhouses such as Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle (to name a few), its transport links by road, rail and air remain some of the most efficient in the country.

Retail spaces in Manchester

Trendy, vibrant and popular, Manchester is one of the UK’s retail hot spots. Historically, the city shaped not only manufacturing, but the wider shopping experience too. When goods were once exchanged through market stalls, this city led the way in traders setting up permanent shops as far back as the 1700s, sowing the seeds for the cultural and social shopping experience that we all know today.

Major redevelopment in the city throughout the 1950s and 60s saw the modernisation of the urban landscape, and with it came the development of the widely-known Manchester Arndale. The third-largest shopping mall in Europe, the Arndale covers nearly 1.4 million square feet and attracts tens of millions of visitors annually.

Trafford Centre is on a similar scale, situated five miles west of the city centre. Open from 1998, it houses around 200 stores, including Europe’s largest food court and the UK’s busiest cinema. Ten percent of the UK population live within a 45-minute drive of the mall, making it one of the most premium retail locations in the country.

It’s not all large scale. Manchester also offers up-and-coming retail areas such as the Northern Quarter, a central district brimming with bars, organic eateries and markets, seeing a large uptake in both popularity and investment.

Not solely limited to its city centre jurisdiction, there are other retail hot spots dotted around Greater Manchester, with shopping centres in Stretford and Swinton available, alongside suburban locations such as Chorlton and Withington.

Getting around Manchester

Great rail links, by train and tram

A wide-spanning rail network fit for one of the UK’s most populated and visited cities, Manchester is well connected both regionally and nationally. Once the birthplace of passenger rail travel – via the Liverpool and Manchester Railway – current links serve as a key bypass to cities such as Liverpool, Cardiff, Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. There are two large stations, Piccadilly and Victoria, along with four mainline central stations.

Equally impressive is Manchester’s tram system, Metrolink. The high-frequency service runs between 99 stops along 103 kilometres of track, giving it the title of the UK’s most extensive light rail system. Its eight lines branch out from the city centre, linking commuters and shoppers to the outer realms of the city and beyond. A single ticket, which is valid for two hours, costs as little as £1.40, and can be purchased at stations as well as through a Metrolink app.

Reliable and regular buses

Alongside its Metrolink service, Manchester also boasts a wide-scale bus network, and this includes a night service that is one of the most extensive outside of London. It is widely used by commuters and students alike, and includes one of the busiest bus routes in Europe (Oxford Road/Wilmslow Road). There is also a free ‘hop on, hop off’ bus operating in the city centre, linking the main rail stations, shopping districts and business areas.

International air travel

Manchester has the busiest UK airport outside of London, handling more than 23 million passengers each year and serving as the UK’s global gateway for the north. With flights operating across over 200 destinations, it offers direct routes across the globe, including New York, Beijing, Toronto and Bangkok. Access from the city is available via the airport’s dedicated railway station, along with its own Metrolink stop.

Amenities in Manchester

Ample office properties

As one of the UK’s largest cities, Manchester is home to a prosperous business sector, so it’s no surprise that the many serviced and flexible office spaces are appealing for a multitude of industries. A highly dense population (17,861 in the 2011 census) can be found in the city’s primary commercial district, which is outlined by Trinity Way, Great Ancoats Street and Whitworth Street. As the city continues to develop, office space is becoming less confined to one area, popping up throughout the centre and towards its outskirts.

Affordable industrial space

With demand for industrial space remaining consistent throughout the UK, Greater Manchester has long been touted as holding the aces of affordability and excellent transport links. As part of its full-scale regeneration, there have been plenty of new industrial developments made available of late, typically in the outskirts of the city. Manchester’s access to both labour and custom for industrial tenants is rarely matched, and with cheaper costs than London, it makes for an attractive alternative for industrial businesses.

Attractive amenities 

As one of the most vibrant cities in the UK, Manchester really does have it all. Regeneration has seen growth for its hospitality sector, with both high-end and budget hotel options available for visitors. There are also a wealth of gyms, bars, nightclubs and restaurants to suit every taste.  

Notable retailers in Manchester

Widely known for its huge range of retail offerings, the footfall Manchester attracts is served with some of the UK’s largest and most popular retailers. From high-end homewares to affordable fashion, the city centre and out-of-town malls combine to create plenty of options for shoppers of all kinds. Some of the city’s leading retailers are: 

  • John Lewis 
  • Harvey Nichols 
  • House of Fraser 
  • Primark 
  • Marks and Spencer
  • H&M 

As one of the most in-demand retail hotspots in the country, Manchester is served by a number of commercial agents that will help you find the right property:

  • Mason Owen
  • CN PROP
  • Daniel Harris & Company
  • Savills
  • Roger Hannah Ltd
  • Avison Young

Manchester’s retail sector

Manchester added £73.4 billion in gross value to the UK economy in 2019, second only to London in terms of cities and enterprise areas throughout the UK. 

Manchester Airport is the largest regional airport in the UK, serving more than 26 million passengers each year.  

Trafford Centre is the third largest shopping centre in the UK, behind only Westfield London and Newcastle’s Metro Centre. 

In 1717, Manchester was a market town of 10,000 people. Now, the city’s population is 553,230.  

Premier League football clubs generated £1.1bn for Greater Manchester during the 2019/20 season, along with supporting 21,000 jobs.  

Learn more

There’s plenty more to learn about the retail industry with Realla, from important trends to the best locations. Find out about the emerging ESG trends within the market, or have a look at some of the key trends emerging in 2022’s property market.