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- May 1, 2020: Vol. 14, Number 5

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Cashing in: Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, UK retail parks were beginning to look attractive as a value play. When the crisis subsides, it may be time to start shopping around

by Marek Handzel

It is common knowledge that UK retail was already in bad shape before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Years of over expansion, rising business rates, growing e-commerce adoption and stagnant wage growth have decimated many once flourishing household brands. Some 6,000 stores closed for business in the UK in 2019, according to the UK-based Centre for Retail Research — more than double the number in 2018 — and landlords have been forced to liquidate some of their buildings at eye-watering prices.

Commenting on the sector in February, Rogier Quirijns, head of Europe real estate and senior portfolio manager at Cohen & Steers, highlighted the impact that the sector’s troubles were having on property values and returns. “We estimate that in 2019, UK real estate investment trusts [REITs] had to write down the value of shopping centres by 20 percent and retail parks by 35 percent,” he noted, pointing out that the reason that similar devaluations have not yet been reflecte

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