A guide to renting a shop in Leeds

7th November 2022 | Phoebe Dobke

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

With the pandemic intensifying the problems that many retailers were already dealing with, businesses have re-evaluated what works for them and their customers. For many the soaring rents of London aren’t sustainable, which gives smaller cities such as Leeds the opportunity to house growing businesses.

Leeds has developed to become one of the country’s most prominent regional capitals in recent years. Once at the core of the UK’s industrial machine in the 19th century, Leeds has risen again as a vital industrial base.

Leeds is the third-largest city in the UK with a population of over three million people and booming shopping districts. Leeds has a wide choice of retail shops to rent, from major centres like Trinity Leeds and Kirkgate Market to smaller independent quarters like The Electric Pass.


The Royal Armouries is arguably the best attraction in Leeds. With five floors crammed full of relics, trinkets and treasures from the National Collection of Arms and Armour, it brings the history of warfare and combat to life. The site is also free to enter, making it the ideal rainy-day activity.

For those wanting to see more contemporary culture, the former Tetley’s Brewery HQ is now a hub for the arts in the heart of Leeds. It offers an expansive gallery presenting a series of challenging, contemporary art exhibitions by big names and rising stars. They fuse that with a learning centre for both adults and children along with a bar and restaurant for a break.


Leeds is regarded a multicultural city and is home to more than 140 ethnic groups. This creates retail opportunities for a large variety of businesses, particularly independents. The mix of cultures is especially enjoyed by tourists visiting Kirkgate Market which is well known for offering an exciting array of market kitchens and street food vendors offering regional specialities from around the world.

The city centre is most densely populated by students and under 30’s thanks to the city’s five universities. Whereas those over 45 tend to live in the more rural areas. This is an important consideration when looking for a retail shop for rent as you want to be accessible to your target audience.


Leeds is one of the country’s busiest commuting hubs for both international and local travel. As a result, Leeds railway station is the fourth busiest outside of London and has been planned for expansion for some time. The government has promised to invest in a regional transit network that would relieve the current strain on the city’s transportation. 

Buses are one of the most-used ways to get around Leeds, the metropolitan area and nearby towns and cities. The region is connected by local and regional buses that are frequent, reliable, and affordable. 

Leeds also welcomes international visitors through the Leeds-Bradford airport which is planned to expand over the next few years. This will increase the airport’s annual visits from about four million to seven million.

Shopping districts

Leeds is well-known for being one of the top shopping destinations in the UK, with various high-profile premium and reasonably priced retail centres spread across the city’s walkable centre. Trinity Leeds is at the heart of the retail scene and spans over 1 million sq. ft of prime retail and hospitality space. Home to over 120 different retailing brands and more than 40 restaurants and cafes, this conveniently located shopping centre has an annual footfall of 25 million.

Leeds is also home to one of Europe’s largest indoor markets, Kirkgate Market. This bustling venue boasts over 400 individual retailers and vendors and attracts 8.5 million people every year. This market, housed in a Grade 1 listed structure, is one of the city’s most popular attractions. As the city grows, new and mixed-use spaces sprout up all around the city centre.

Directly opposite Kirkgate Market, Victoria Quarter has successfully established itself as a leading retail destination with its listed arcades providing a unique retail environment set over two distinct shopping streets, County Arcade and Queen Victoria Street. Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate form part of the new 56,300 sq m Victoria Leeds premium shopping destination, which offers customers a range of aspirational retail brands and restaurants. The quarter is also on the main access route from Leeds to the motorway network connecting to the Midlands, London, Newcastle and Edinburgh but the M1. From high-footfall shopping centres, quaint markets and mixed-use spaces, Leeds is an excellent place to find retail shops for rent.


Leeds is one of the most reasonable retail rent locations in the UK, with an average price per square foot of £42.85, making it a prime location for retail shops to rent. However it is still important to ensure your rent fits your budget. You can do this 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

Be sure to get quotes from the various tradesmen and specialists you may need so you can compare 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 Leeds offices



Avison Young





Annual visitors

29 million

Properties on Completely Retail


Find shops to rent in Leeds here.


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