Average lease lengths were cut this year as retailers struggled to maintain flexibility in a tough market.

The 10th annual lease review, published by the British Property Federation (BPF) and the IPD, found the average lease length fell from 6.2 to 5.7 years.

Shorter leases have become more common, with 67 per cent of leases granted in this year’s review for five years or less. Less than 3 per cent of leases agreed this year were for more than 15 years.

While leases have shortened, the average first point to break was 6.3 years, compared with 5.4 years in 2002.

BPF chief executive Liz Peace said: “Tighter market conditions experienced by the retail sector over the past year seem to be reinforcing the longer-term trend across all sectors for shorter leases. Whatever the cause, in these uncertain times, it is important that the property market is offering a choice of duration of leases that reflects the needs of its customers.

“Of course, this downward trend cannot continue forever, but I have no doubt that the practice of providing choice to potential tenants will continue.”