A guide to renting a shop in Bristol

26th October 2022 |

Looking for shops to rent in Bristol? Here is what you need to know.

Situated on the River Avon, Bristol is the most populous city in the Southwest of England and the eleventh-most populous urban area in the UK. The city has a thriving economy, built primarily on the creative media, technology, electronics and aerospace industries.

On average, employment rates and salaries are higher than elsewhere in the country, making it an excellent destination to start and grow a business. Bristol brands itself as an ‘independent city,’ cultivating a unique community spirit through the Bristol Pound and supporting and promoting its local retailers.


When it comes to art and culture, Bristol has plenty to offer. Known for its thriving art scene, the city is home to art galleries such as Arnolfini Arts Centre and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. Meanwhile, you only need to wander around to discover Bristol’s most famous artists. Banksy’s original artworks can be found in various locations around the city and dedicated walking tours are available.

Film lovers can enjoy independent cinema at Cube, Watershed, and Everyman Theatre, as well as film clubs such as Bristol Bad Film Club to the Sunset Cinema.

The buzzing city also has ample opportunity for exploring nature. Discover 4,500 species of plants at the Botanic Garden or explore Brandon Hill, the oldest park in Bristol, offering a tranquil oasis just minutes from the busy Park Street.


According to the 2021 Census, the city of Bristol has a population of 472,400, up 10% from 2011, making it the fastest-growing of all the Core Cities in England and Wales over the last decade.

Bristol has a relatively young age profile, with children counting for more of the population than people aged 65 and over. Moreover, Bristol has two universities: the University of Bristol and the University of West England, and students make up almost 10% of the city’s population.

Bristol is the eighth most visited town or city in the UK by international visitors. Tourism generates £1.173 billion annually (data from 2019).


Bristol bus, shops to rent in Bristol
Photo by DSH Transport via Flickr

Bristol is the West of England’s major national rail hub, with Great Western Railway and other major train operators running local, regional and inter-city services from Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway Railway Stations.

Bristol also has a large-scale bus network, with plenty of fast and convenient services making it easy to get around. The majority of Bristol buses are operated by First Bus.

8 miles outside the city centre is Bristol Airport. The airport has been ranked the eighth busiest in the UK, handling 8.9 million passengers in 2019, and connecting the West of England and South Wales with the rest of the UK, Europe, the USA and northern Africa.

Top shopping districts

Cabot Circus is Bristol city centre’s prime shopping destination, home to more than 120 high street and designer brands. It covers 1.5 million sq ft of floor space, of which 1 million sq ft is retail stores and leisure facilities. The development also contains a cinema, hotel and apartments. Cabot Circus benefits from a young and professional customer base with visitors totalling 18 million per year.

North of the city centre, located off Junction 17 of the M5 motorway, is Cribbs Causeway, an out-of-town concentration of retail parks, foodstores and shopping centre retailing. Cribbs Causeway Retail Park, one of two retail parks on the site, totals 215,000 sq ft and houses 11 large retail units. The Mall is home to 153 top-name stores and a range of cafes and restaurants. The 995,000 sq ft shopping centre attracts more than 12 million visitors per year.

Meanwhile, shopping areas such as Old Market and Clifton Village offer a range of independent retailers, cafés and boutique stores, for a more unique shopping experience.

Old Market, Bristol (Photo by Bex Walton via Flickr)


When comparing properties, ensure your rent fits your budget by calculating the percentage of your income that will go towards it. Retail businesses typically spent 5-10% of their income on rent.

Business rates are another important factor to consider. This is a tax on non-domestic properties, calculated using the property’s rateable value. 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

It is a good idea to research and get quotes from the various tradesmen and specialists so you can compare rates and get the best deal. Buying from second-hand sites can also help you save money. Additionally, consider essential services such as water, gas, electricity, internet and insurance. Look around to find trustworthy and competitive suppliers. You can read more tips on opening your first shop here.

Agents with Bristol offices

Avison Young


Lambert Smith Hampton


Cushman & Wakefield

Hartnell Taylor Cook



Properties on Completely Retail


Find a great selection of shops to rent in Bristol here.


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