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The retail revolution

The retail revolution: As sales boom online, are shares in shopping centres a bargain – or damaged goods?By ANNE ASHWORTH FOR THE DAILY MAIL

PUBLISHED: 21:58, 3 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:23, 4 July 2020

For millions, the ideal shopping centre is no longer what it was. Now more functional than aspirational, it has a Primark, a Poundland, a B&M, plenty of free parking, plus a massive supermarket.

The pandemic has accelerated the preference among both the cash-strapped and the affluent for this unpretentious type of centre – the retail park, with its bargains and ample scope for social distancing…

Nevertheless, the recent collapse into administration of Intu, owner of Lakeside in Essex and the Trafford in Manchester, highlights the crisis in the sector which has been exacerbated by online shopping’s explosive growth…

Intu’s fate has increased scrutiny of other REITs, in particular Hammerson, owner of Birmingham’s Bullring. Only 14 per cent of the rents owing to retail landlords due on June 24 were paid, following a temporary government ban on the eviction of tenants…

In the meantime, attention has turned to a possible sale of the Trafford Centre, which is on Intu’s books at an optimistic £1.7billion…

Richard Williams of QuotedData, the analysis group, says that Hammerson’s focus on shopping centres – it has a 50 per cent stake in Bicester Village – explains its 87 per cent discount. While it collected just 16 per cent of its rents, it has acted to shore up its finances.

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