Recent times have seen the uncertain and unsteady economy make a huge impact on our disposable income and, with the cost of living higher than ever before, this has inevitably made a dent on our high street spending.
So, how is Harrogate’s ‘high street’ fairing in the stormy economy when the market trend is to see many town high streets failing with vacant premises becoming commonplace? You only need to walk around Knaresborough, a stone’s throw away, to see the massive impact the economy is having on the smaller market towns. A large number of the town’s shops are currently empty with businesses seeming to shut up shop on an almost weekly basis.
The high street in Harrogate comprises the prestigious Cambridge Street, Oxford Street and James Street, with the boutique areas of Parliament Street and Montpellier Square also drawing in the crowds. There are few, if any, empty units found on these streets and if properties do become vacant, it is not long before new tenants are putting up their signage and opening for trade. There can be no question that Harrogate is a desirable place to be and the large retailers are clearly keen to trade in Harrogate with the relatively recent additions of retail giants, Primark, Topshop and River Island.
The Harrogate rumour mill is constantly churning with gossip about which retailer or restaurant chain will be next to open up which is not surprising since Harrogate draws in a huge tourism crowd plus masses of conference delegates. House prices in the area are also well above the average indicating that even in these difficult times, people still have some pennies to spend.
Certainly, from a legal perspective, we are incredibly busy at the moment, acting for a variety of landlords and tenants of all types and sizes. There has been a marked increase in new instructions over the last year in contrast to the preceding couple of years. A number of our large retail clients are desperate to find suitable premises in the town but the space just is not available in the right location and/or the desired size.
It is an unusual market at the moment, and tenants in many areas of the country are able to make demands that were previously unheard of, with landlords being far more willing to negotiate flexible terms. We have even seen landlords granting extensive rent-free periods, agreeing to short terms and break provisions to secure a reputable occupant. The landlords in Harrogate however still appear to be reasonably in control and are reaping the benefit of owning commercial property in such a desirable location.
Madeline Mannakee is a solicitor in Raworths’ commercial property unit. To contact Raworths telephone 01423 566666 or visit our offices at Eton House, 89 Station Parade, Harrogate, HG1 1HF. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org