A guide to renting a shop in Birmingham

12th September 2022 | Phoebe Dobke

Looking for shops to rent in Birmingham? Here’s what you need to know.

With a population of over 1.3 million, Birmingham is home to some of the best talent in the country as well as cutting-edge companies across a variety of industries. Rising to prominence during the Industrial Revolution, Birmingham has stood out on the trading map for decades. In 2022 Birmingham also became the host of the Commonwealth Games, the first time the West Midlands has played host to the event. Home to countless canals, a lively music scene and The Bullring shopping centre, the city is a hive for culture that’s supported by over 40 million annual visitors, creating opportunities for businesses to thrive. If you’re thinking about basing your business in the city, here’s what you need to know about renting a shop in Birmingham. 


Elliott Brown on Flickr

Birmingham has a range of attractions, ensuring a high level of foot traffic from both locals and tourists. A city rich in culture, Birmingham is home to several art galleries and attractions including: The Birmingham Museum, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and the National Sea Life Centre, which has more than 60 marine exhibits. Another animal-focused attraction worth seeing is the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park. On the edge of Cannon Hill Park, this small zoo is home to a diverse selection of animals and allows hands-on experiences for all ages.

Do your research

Before you commit to a physical presence it’s essential you conduct thorough market research. Look at how other successful businesses have established themselves in the area and if there’s a gap in the market for your business. It’s important to conduct thorough research on your target audience. Find out what they read, where they shop and even their spending habits. Of all the key UK cities, Birmingham has the highest percentage of residents under the age of 20. So, if your business is targeting the young and ethically conscious, Birmingham city centre may be the perfect place.

You should also consider how much space you need for your business. The “sales per square foot” strategy is the most effective way to estimate how much retail space you’ll need. Find the typical “sales per square foot” for the sort of shop you’re starting. For example, if you want to open a bakery in Birmingham, you might find that the average sales per square foot for bakeries in Birmingham is £100. Then take your estimated annual income – lets say you expect to make £200,000 annually, then divide 200,000 by 100. This means you would need about 2,000 square feet of space for your bakery.


Birmingham has excellent transport links both to other major cities and internally. It is one of the key stations on the Avanti West Coast Line, making it easy to get to from wherever you are in the UK. By train Birmingham is just over 2 hours away from London and under 2 hours from Cardiff and Manchester. By car or coach the M5, M6, M40, and M42 connect Birmingham to the rest of the UK.

In the city centre you can get around using the West Midlands Cycle Hire from over 50 docks at key locations. Another convenient mode of transportation is the West Midlands Metro, operating seven days a week at regular intervals. The Birmingham Library is the starting point of the tram line, which travels to locations such Grand Central and St. Paul’s, as well as nearby towns.

High Street or Shopping Centre

Birmingham city centre hosts a wide range of shops to rent and attracts a range of tourists. The Bullring attracts an annual footfall of over 35 million across over 200 units, making it one of the UK’s most successful shopping destinations. The Martineau Galleries, which has both residential and business space as well as 60 retail shops, is another excellent central location. The Martineau Galleries will also be beside the Curzon Street HS2 station, which will be the first new intercity terminal station built in the UK since the 19th century. The station will support the city’s growth by bringing Birmingham and the West Midlands within an hour’s journey of Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, and London.

However, these high footfall location translate into higher rent. To cut costs you could consider straying a little further from the city centre to Sutton Coldfield. Just 25 minutes from Birmingham by train and home to The Gracechurch Centre, another popular shopping centre attracting around 7 million annual visitors.

If you’re looking at high street shops to rent in Birmingham, the three major shopping streets: New Street, High Street and Corporation Street, offer visitors a more traditional retail experience. Birmingham’s high streets are home to both popular brands as well as more unique stores. Creating a climate for small retailers to thrive, and providing visitors with a varied shopping experience.


To help you compare properties, you should calculate the percentage of your income that would go toward rent to ensure it fits your budget. Take the properties rent per square foot and divide that by your sales per square foot to give you the percentage. As a rule of thumb, retail businesses typically spend 5-10% of their income on rent.

Business rates are another important factor to consider. This is a tax on non-domestic properties, that are calculated using the property’s rateable value (their estimated value). Business rates are a tax on property used for business purposes. So, if you run your business from a commercial property, it’s important that you understand business rates and how much you need to pay. You can find detailed information and calculate your business rates here.

Fitting out your shop can also be costly, especially if you are a first time shop owner. The average costs of a shop fitting per square foot in the UK are:

  • Low specification – £60 per sq ft
  • Medium specification – £90 per sq ft
  • High specification – £140 per sq ft

Do some research and get quotes from the various tradesmen and specialists you may require, be sure to get multiple quotes so you can compare rates and get the best deal. Buying from second hand sites can also help you save money. Essential services such as water, gas, electricity, internet and insurance must also be taken into consideration. Look around to find trustworthy and competitive suppliers. You can read more tips on opening your first shop here.

Agents with Birmingham offices



Avison Young



Over 1.3 million

Annual visitors

40 million 

Properties on Completely Retail


You can see a great selection of shops to rent in Birmingham on Completely Retail here.


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