A guide to renting a shop in Manchester

30th September 2022 | Lucy Millar

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

Often considered England’s ‘second city,’ Manchester is the northwest’s largest and most-populated metropolitan area. It has the largest regional economy outside of London, making it an excellent choice for business and investment.

Manchester is proud to be a city of culture, having reinvented its industrial past into an artsy, trendsetting present, with more music venues per capita than anywhere else in the country, as well as numerous libraries and cinemas. Theatres such as the Royal Exchange, Palace Theatre and Manchester Opera House, attract performers and spectators from all over the world. Hence, it is no surprise that Manchester is the third-most visited city by foreign visitors in the UK, after London and Edinburgh.

Search shops to rent in Manchester.


Together with its popular shopping destinations, Manchester’s tourist attractions draw in residents and visitors alike. The city has many free museums and galleries, including the Manchester MuseumManchester Art Gallery, the Museum of Science and IndustryImperial War Museum North, and the People’s History Museum.

Manchester is home to two premier league football teams, and so the sport is often heavily associated with the city’s culture. Aside from watching football matches, there is plenty for fans to do such as a tour of Old Trafford Stadium or visiting the National Football Museum.


The Greater Manchester area is the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a population of more than 2.77 million, as of 2022, expected to reach 3 million by 2034. The city, which has a population of 553,230, is visited by an average of 119 million people annually.


Photo by Mangopear creative on Unsplash

Manchester is well-served by its rail system, with two major stations – Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria – among others. The city is the centre of a country-wide railway network, including the West Coast Main Line connecting London and Glasgow. The proposed High Speed 2 will link Manchester with Birmingham and London, and will include a 7-mile tunnel under Manchester on its approach to an upgraded Piccadilly station.

Manchester also has a large-scale bus network. With over 50 bus companies operating in and around the city, it is one of the most extensive bus networks in the UK outside of London.

In 1992, the Manchester Metrolink opened, making Manchester the first city in the UK with a modern light rail tram system. Operating 8 lines and 99 stops, the Metrolink makes 40 million passenger journeys a year on average and remains a popular transport option for residents and visitors.

Top shopping districts

Photo by William McCue on Unsplash

Visitors travel from all over the world to shop in Manchester. There is something for everyone; from streets of independent boutique stores to designer outlets, to large shopping centres and department stores offering a wide selection of international brands. This also means there are opportunities for many different types and sizes of businesses to succeed in Manchester’s retail scene.

Manchester Arndale is one of the largest city centre shopping centres in the UK, boasting an average of 798,000 visitors per week and an annual footfall of 40 million. The centre maintains a loyal shopper base attracted by a strong retail mix across 257 units.

In the last decade, Manchester’s Corn Exchange has been redeveloped into the city’s prime dining destination. It is situated in Exchange Square in the heart of Manchester city centre and within walking distance of the National Football Museum, The Printworks recreational hub, The Arndale Centre and Manchester Arena, making it an ideal location for F&B businesses.

For businesses requiring a larger retail space in a prime location, Manchester’s premier retail park, Manchester Fort Shopping Park, is located 1.5 miles north of the city centre.


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 Manchester Offices


Cheetham & Mortimer

Cushman & Wakefield

Avison Young

Emanuel Oliver



Annual visitors

119 million

Properties on Completely Retail


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


Looking for more retail news? you might find these interesting