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Repurposing Retail: Ways to Use Empty Retail Space

7th June 2019

As an increasing number of consumers shop online and the high street crisis worsens, thousands of UK shops are being left empty. The once great British high street is now a sorry state, with closures of banks, pubs, salons, cafes and fashion outlets at their highest level. According to the latest research, over 7,500 shops became empty last year. Larger retail spaces, such as shopping centres and department stores, are also being hit hard. It was recently reported by the BBC that more than 200 UK shopping centres were on the brink of closure. But there is hope on the horizon as the number of unused spaces surges…

In an age where recycling is king, savvy entrepreneurs are turning their attentions to the empty units littering our streets. Retail spaces are being repurposed to become useful once more within local communities. Here we take a closer look at the alternative uses for empty retail space.

Add the fun factor

UK shoppers may be using the internet to shop for everything they need - a fact that makes physical bricks and mortar stores less appealing - but they’re more social than ever. Converting an unloved retail unit into a facility made for socialisation and fun is therefore a great way to go. Selected units can make great bars, eateries, activity centres (i.e. mini golf, climbing walls, trampoline parks and soft play areas), salons or barbers, and vehicle showrooms. By breathing new life into old spaces with these enterprises, people have a new reason to visit a high street or shopping centre, and can even make a day of it. Adding the fun factor will also give a vital boost to surrounding retailers who are yet to close their doors.

Support internet shopping As the saying goes, “if you can’t beat them, join them”, and this sentiment is shared by the developers repurposing empty retail spaces into logistics centres. With the rise of online shopping comes an increased need for delivery hubs. The biggest and smallest online retailers need them, particularly logistics space that is well-located and storage rich. It’s not just companies selling goods that need storage; individuals need space to store their belongings too. Self-storage units are particularly popular, and as most empty retail units and larger shopping centres are in high traffic locations, they make perfect self-storage facilities with the right conversion.

Tackle the housing crisis

Crack one crisis by solving another and convert unused retail space into a valuable residential asset. England has a notorious under-supply of housing. The government and existing developers are struggling to keep up with demand as life expectancy rates continue to rise and the number of one-person households increase. Retail units can be lovingly converted into homes, which will have a positive impact on the wider area. A larger population for instance supports retail sales and demand.

Give business a boost

Businesses servicing all sectors need space to grow. Repurposing retail units into office space provides an opportunity to support the growth and success of companies big and small, as well as give the local jobs market a boost. Shopping centres in particular make great co-working spaces thanks to their excellent locations, nearby retail and leisure amenities, and public transport, road links and rail connections. Thinking outside of the box with big-box-store infrastructure, such as empty retail units, department stores and shopping centres, is the key to saving our high streets. Commercial premises like these deserve a fresh start. Browse our range of commercial properties for sale today and hail the next generation high street.