A guide to renting a shop in South London

17th January 2023 | Jack Oliver

Considering renting a shop in South London? Here’s what you need to know.

South of the Thames, South London consists of the boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond, Southwark, Sutton, and Wandsworth.

While maybe not seeing as much footfall as central London, South London has a lot of up-and-coming areas which can make it attractive to retailers, with many town centres based in its boroughs. According to the South London Partnership, South London is home to six times more start-ups with better survival rates than the London average, making it an ideal location to consider when renting a shop.


South London is home to The Shard, London’s tallest building and second in the UK only to Emley Moor in Yorkshire. Southwark‘s Bankside is also home to contemporary art museum the Tate Modern.

Southwark also boasts Shakespeare’s Globe for theatre lovers, as well as the historic HMS Belfast, which is moored on the southern banks of the Thames. Music fans may be familiar with the O2 Academy in Brixton which has played host to many world-famous acts over the years.

South London is home to world heritage site Maritime Greenwich, famous for historic landmarks such as the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House, the Royal Observatory, The Old Royal Naval College, as well as the picturesque Greenwich Park.

For sports lovers, The Oval in Vauxhall is home to Surrey County Cricket Club, while Croydon hosts Premier League games at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park.

Tom Brogan / flickr.com


It’s important to research demographics before renting a shop. South London hosts the second largest population of the metropolitan areas in the capital, second only to East London. It is also home to London South Bank University, providing a steady flow of students. South London is also becoming an increasingly attractive place for young professionals.

Tourism is regarded as the fastest-growing industry in the country, and with over half of inbound visitor spend accounted for in London, retailers will never be short of footfall. The Tate Modern saw 1.16 million visitors in 2021, and 6.1 million in 2019, before the Pandemic, while The Shard welcomed 2.3 million visitors to its restaurants in 2015. Shakespeare’s Globe is also a popular destination, welcoming 1.25 million visitors annually.


London is the UK’s best connected city, both internally and to the rest of the country.

South London benefits from TfL‘s underground and overground rail systems, as well as London’s extensive bus system. There are 31 tube stations in South London.

National Rail services serve areas of South London such as London Bridge, Greenwich, Croydon, and of course Clapham Junction, amongst many others.

Shopping centres

South London is home to various shopping centres, including the 283,700 sq ft Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, less than a five minute walk from Canada Water on the Jubilee Line and Surrey Quays overground station. It features a variety of stores, from supermarkets to clothing stores, as well as a number of independent shops.

The Glades in Bromley is a 500,000 sq ft scheme, home to over 144 units over two levels. It hosts an annual footfall of over 20m and supports a 1,500 space car park. It is the third-largest shopping destination by footfall in the non-grocery catchment and is home to a multitude of clothing stores including Zara, H&M, Jack Wills and White Stuff, amongst others.

Other centres to include Croydon’s Centrale, achored by a two-storey House of Fraser and a three-storey NEXT, Broadway Shopping Centre in Bexleyheath, and The Bentall Centre in Kingston, the dominant shopping centre in the town.


Although renting a shop in Central London is more expensive than in any other UK city, at £49.64 per sq ft per year (on average), rents in South London are unlikely to be as high as in its central and western counterparts.

It’s 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 London offices


Edgerley Simpson Howe



Morgan Williams

Nash Bond





Annual Visitors to London

30 million

Properties in London on Completely Retail


Find shops to rent in South London here.


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