Five UK locations to consider when opening a shop

30th August 2022 | Lucy Millar

Deciding where to open your next retail store? 

With rent prices through the roof in many of the major cities, it might be a good time to look outside the realms of London, Manchester and Birmingham. 

Here, we’ll take a look at some up-and-coming destinations, where investment and development are bringing new life to the city centre. The rents are not yet as high, and their increasing popularity could lead to excellent business opportunities. 

1. Margate, Kent

Margate waterfront
Photo by Alan Glicksman on Flickr

Located on the southeast coast, Margate is currently emerging as one of the most popular areas in the country to live and visit, with beautiful beachfront townhouses being converted into quality family residences and hotels. A recent study named it the most affordable ‘picturesque’ town to live in the UK. 

Over the last 10 years, the seaside town has seen a huge transformation and is now attracting similar crowds to Brighton. A new wave of independent retailers has brought a new lease of life, creativity, and colour to the town centre. Much of this reinvention is thanks to the opening of the Turner Contemporary art gallery in 2011, which significantly increased the number of visitors to the area, from the UK and abroad, and established Margate as a thriving arts hub. 

The population of Margate is 65,339 and the average retail rent price is around £12.10 per square foot.

Check out retail spaces available to rent in Margate 

2. Dundee, Scotland

Dundee skyline
Photo by Zack Davidson on Unsplash

Whilst sometimes overshadowed by other Scottish cities, Dundee is a hidden gem in the historic county of Angus. Thanks to a £1 billion investment into its waterfront area, the city is working hard to enhance the local economy, encourage business start-ups, and retain its graduates through the large-scale development of retail, office, leisure, residential and manufacturing spaces. 

The project has a commitment to sustainability, demonstrated through its extensive wildlife protection corridor, vast outdoor spaces and improved paths and cycle lanes. It has also pledged that all new buildings will achieve the BREEAM sustainability standards rating of outstanding. The Dundee Waterfront will be the first development in Scotland to do so. 

The population of Dundee is 44,441 and the average retail rent price is around £16.64 per square foot.

Check out retail spaces available to rent in Dundee 

3. Truro, Cornwall

Truro harbour
Photo by Alison Day on Flickr

A small but growing city, Truro has a charming atmosphere and a bustling retail and market scene. Local businesses have reported to the Truro Business Improvement District (BID) that despite the pandemic, they are performing better than they were in 2019. Units that were once empty are now attracting new names to the town, suggesting a surge in confidence. 

Truro currently has multiple new housing and supermarket projects in the works. The Pydar Street Regeneration Project aims to give a disused part of the city centre and much-needed facelift. The project will create 320 new homes, commercial units and additional parking. Moreover, 400 new student rooms and a Falmouth University hub will bring increased student footfall to the area. 

The population of Truro is 20,920 and the average retail rent price is around £28.72 per square foot.

Check out retail spaces available to rent in Truro 

4. Norwich, Norfolk

Norwich market
Photo by John Michael Button on Flickr 

Although Norwich already has a thriving retail scene, with its mixture of big-brand shopping centres and cobbled lanes lined with independent vendors, exciting upcoming developments could make having a store here even more valuable for your business. 

Plans for a revamp of Anglia Square, including a new 20-storey tower, would create 11,000 homes and 4,000 sqm of retail and office space. Additionally, several new housing developments currently under construction will bring new residents and jobs to the area. 

Census data suggests that Norwich is already growing, given that the population increased by 9% in last ten years – higher than the overall increase of England’s population. In this same period, its percentage of 20 to 24-year-olds increased from 6% to 11%, indicating that Norwich has a more youthful population than the national average.  

The population of Norwich is 202,150 and the average retail rent price is around £29.22 per square foot.

Check out retail spaces available to rent in Norwich, including units at Riverside Retail Park

5. Coventry, West Midlands

Shopping street in Coventry
Photo by La Citta Vita on Flickr

Coventry is the second largest city in the West Midlands, and it is growing fast. ONS projections suggest the city’s population could increase by 20% by 2037, which would massively increase accommodation demands, leading to increased investment and jobs being created. 

Situated in the hub of the UK motorway network and well-served by rail and air services, Coventry is one of the best-connected places in the UK. That, as well as its large student population, means plenty of visitors and high footfall. 

In terms of future development, Coventry City Council’s plans to rejuvenate the city centre into a modern retail and leisure hub have taken major steps forward this year, with significant funding being secured for retail units and a new business district. 

The population of Coventry is 379,387 and the average retail rent price is around £30.20 per square foot.

Check out retail spaces available to rent in Coventry

Check out our other articles for more advice on opening your first shop and choosing the best location for your shop.


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