'Start of a new retail age' as Sheffield sees surge in demand from independent shops and restaurants

Sheffield saw a surprise surge in demand for retail units during the pandemic prompting a commercial agent to hail ‘the start of a new retail age’.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 11:08 am

CPP recorded an 18 per cent rise in enquries during 2020 compared to 2019 - up from 118 to 141.

The ‘vast majority’ were from independents. The firm was ‘overrun’ with interest for the former Costa Coffee (latterly Lone Star which closed in August) on Division Street. It is under offer to a high end restaurant/deli from London.

And a new large unit under Fountain Precinct, adjacent to City Hall, is under offer to a high quality restaurant from Manchester.

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Former Lonestar cafe, and Costa before that, on Division Street. Picture: Chris Etchells

CPP director Rob Darrington said: “Over the past few months we have seen an increasing number of enquires for space in the city centre as businesses start to look beyond lockdown. This bigger picture indicates both a backlash to the pressure for retail to only focus online - and the start of a new retail age.

“The recent news that John Lewis will be closing their Sheffield store is not good news for local job losses, however, this is an opportunity the city needs to grab with both hands. For too long people have put too greater emphasis and importance on one single occupier.

“For a city centre to thrive it needs a retail customer that stays within a centre for several hours and spends in various stores, cafes and restaurants.

“Now is the time to build on the great work of Heart of the City II and the surrounding public realm, situated between the new Radisson Blu Hotel, Leah’s Yard and Cambridge Street collective food hall.

The newly-built unit on the ground floor of Fountain Precinct. Picture: Chris Etchells

“We may be on the lower part of the regeneration cycle, but we are on the up, and although Rome wasn’t built in a day, at least we now have the ability to build and grow.”

The city centre was set to see a surge in ‘innovative start-ups and interesting boutiques, cafes and bars’, he added.

Enquiries were focused on locations associated with independent occupiers including Division Street, West Street, High Street, Campo Lane, Charles Street, Norfolk Street, Arundel Street and Sydney Street.

“The high street is far from dead. The potential for Sheffield is there. It is ever evolving, and the future looks bright.”

CPP was overrun with interest for the former Costa Coffee on Division Street. It is now under offer to a high end restaurant/deli from London. Picture: Chris Etchells

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.