In the region of £3bn was invested into UK shopping centres in 2016 thanks mainly to a bounce back in activity levels towards the end of the year, following a slower than usual start, fresh figures from Savills reveal.
Despite the recovery in the latter part of the year, investment levels ended 2016 down compared to a total of £4.3bn in 2015 and against a long term average of £4bn per annum.
In terms of deal count, 42 shopping centre transactions completed in 2016, compared to 86 in 2015 and a long term average of 78.
The firm also said that while councils did not purchase a single shopping centre in 2015, they emerged as key players in 2016, making £386.7m worth of acquisitions across 10 schemes, which accounted for 13% of all UK shopping centre deals last year and 44% of deals below £100m.
Additional data from Savills shows that foreign investors took advantage of the weak pound to significantly increase their presence in the market, accounting for £1.35bn of total transactions. Interest came predominantly from Europe, the Middle East and the US, the company said.
The greatest level of activity was recorded in the fourth quarter which saw volumes return to a robust £1.27bn. This is broadly in line with the long term average and comparable to £1.35bn traded in Q4 2015.
“The UK shopping centre investment market had an unusual year in 2016,” said Mark Garmon-Jones, head of shopping centre investment at Savills.
“The final quarter saw investment volumes return to near normal levels. We expect this momentum will continue into 2017, however, investors have one eye on the Brexit negotiations and the other on retailer performance,” he added.