Property Consultants FG Burnett have just completed their 6 monthly review of occupancy levels on Aberdeen’s Union Street. This examination records the number of units actually occupied and trading and also looks at any trends in terms of unit use.
At first glance it feels like a rather mundane 6 months has passed for our main commercial thoroughfare but there is a positive highlight with the total number of voids falling, for the first time in 2 years. There are currently 44 units that are vacant, representing 23% of the total ground floor lettable units. The North side of the street is faring better than the South, voids being 18% and 28% respectively. We are a long way off suggesting that Union Street’s challenges are diminishing but the current statistics also exclude a total of 8 units that are close to opening / being fitted out – that is very encouraging indeed. Deals are happening albeit at rents / prices that reflect the current market.
Drilling down to the detail we have said goodbye to 3 occupiers, Save the Children and McColl’s on the North side and Ecco on the South side. Since our last survey Northern Diamond, Geek Retreat and Mental Health Aberdeen have arrived and remarkably 4 new mobile phone repair outlets have opened in the last 6 months.
With the best part of 190 units on Union Street it is inevitable that new voids will arise, but with the number of deals ongoing and units already being fitted by new occupiers we are very hopeful that our next survey in August will show a further decrease in the available space. Over the years the look and feel of Union Street has changed and food & beverage and service providers now dominate where variety stores, fashion and footwear once held their own. The change in occupier profile has naturally led to less attractive shopfront displays and when the occupiers of entire blocks begin to change this can lead to a rather down-at-heel look.
Commenting on the latest survey results, FG Burnett Managing Director Richard Noble said “It is heartening that voids have fallen in the past 6 months but I expect people will still be terribly concerned at the general perception of Union Street and that the new occupiers are not necessarily adding to the experience being sought by workers, visitors and residents spending time in the central area. Any initiative to see a significant improvement on displays and unit fascias would be welcomed as would a step change in the quality of our City Centre public realm. The quality environment of a redeveloped Union Terrace Gardens cannot come quick enough and we await further announcements on the former BHS redevelopment, another key project. “