Available square footage in retail parks fell to just 5.9% during 2015, the lowest level since 2002, according to a new report unveiled today.

The lack of available space and shortage of new retail park developments has left retailers relying on a “second-hand supply” of out-of-town units, research by Trevor Wood Associates revealed.

This has meant retailers with ambitions to grow their out-of-town portfolios were left to compete for units that had become available due to the downsizing and relocation strategies of retailers including B&Q and Homebase, or those that came onto the market following CVAs from tenants such as Brantano.

The out-of-town locations have become more and more appealing to retailers after undergoing a resurgence and racing ahead of high streets and shopping centres in the fight for footfall.

Trevor Wood Associates’ Definitive Guide to Retail & Leisure Parks 2016, which analysed more than 1,500 retail and leisure parks, said that the problem would be eased by 89 new developments that are “likely to proceed” before the end of 2022.

That pipeline includes 51 new retail parks, which will “significantly” increase the number of available out-of-town stores.

Out-of-town retailers

According to the report, Argos, Carpetright, Currys, Halfords, Next and Pets at Home were the retailers with the largest presence in retail parks, shopping parks or retail and leisure parks across the UK.

B&Q occupied the most retail park floorspace, despite decreasing its space in out-of-town locations by 5% during the year.

Currys came in second with broadly the same amount of space as 2014, while Homebase was third despite trimming its retail park footprint by 11% last year.

Value retailer B&M recorded the largest increase in retail park square footage, which jumped 23% on the year.

The research revealed that floor space in retail parks increased from 114.2 million sq ft in 2014 to 116 million sq ft last year.

Trevor Wood, senior partner of Trevor Wood Associates, said: “The high level of occupancy of retail and leisure parks show the continuing demand for space.

“The anticipated development pipeline over the next few years will ease the squeeze on units, allowing greater choice for customers.”