The UK’s top towns can’t have had a more dramatic year of change than this.

From Liverpool to Leicester to London and from Bristol to Belfast, the retail property industry has created more significant new developments this year than in any other in recent memory.

These schemes have been a long time in the making and their completion has had the misfortune to coincide with what are likely to be the worst retail trading conditions since the early 1990s.

But retailers have, by and large,  taken units in these schemes, meaning they are still opening well-let.

If retailers are to succeed in today’s market, above all they need quality space in attractive shopping locations.

Retail today is a leisure activity and if people are going to resist the lure of staying in and shopping online, they will need environments that are fun places in which to spend a day out.

What the vicious market downturn does mean, however, is that retailers need to take extra care in making sure they are going into the right locations, and that the places where they open stores have the right demographics for their business.

Property is a huge cost for retailers and a difficult one to get out of, so at times when the cost base is under greater scrutiny, decisions have to be even more thoroughly considered than ever.

With the rapid pace of development, a store that might have been prime pitch five years ago could well be off pitch now, so it  is key to be thinking not just of today but looking ahead too.

This annual supplement on the UK’s top towns, produced in conjunction with Experian, should help inform those decisions.

We profile each of the top 20 shopping locations in the UK, looking at demographics and identifying the key streets and centres in each of those towns – as well as looking forward to conditions in 10 years’ time.

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