Retailers are continuing to scale back their expansion plans, according to the latest research from The Property Information Project (PIP).
During the first quarter of this year, the overall demand for shops in prime and good secondary locations slumped 13.6 per cent for the number of stores required and 15.3 per cent for floorspace sought.
The figures mark a resumption of the downward trend seen since 2001, after a marked rally during the final quarter of last year.
However, the key clothing and footwear sectors continue to show more resilience than other areas of retail. In the past two years, overall requirements have declined by 33 per cent, but in clothing and footwear they have fallen by a more modest 18 per cent.
The tail-off in demand has been strongest at the smaller end of the market, which until recently had been the most resilient.
In March, PIP registered requirements for about 400 units of less than 4,000 sq ft (370 sq m), with a combined floorspace of about 1.5 million sq ft (139,350 sq m). Three months previously, this was about 450 units totalling 2 million sq ft (185,800 sq m).
According to The Property Information Project director Edmund Camerer-Cuss, retailers are becoming more specific about their property requirements.
An increasing number of retailers are also specifying the names of towns where they require well-located central area shops, he said.