Is retail out of the running out of time?

by Malcolm Frodsham, Real Estate Strategies

I found myself last week explaining racing form to a novice at Royal Ascot: what do all those numbers and squiggles actually mean? After running through the form of the first race, my companion was rather surprised when I then suggested a bet on a horse with seemingly less likelihood of winning than the hot favourite. My rationale was simple: everyone can see that one horse had the greatest chance of winning, but that chance was more than factored into the odds. The strategy was not to pick the most winners on the day, but to pick those horses with a chance of winning that were greater than that implied by the odds. Just one such winner was more likely to lead to a profitable day than backing the obvious at inflated odds.

We take the same approach to picking sectors. So our eyes are drawn to the sector that is well and truly ‘on-the-drift’. The demise of multiple retailers and raft of CVAs spells the death of many a high street and the competition for retail spending is only expected to intensify. But like a drop in the weights by the handicapper, the high street can support retailers when the rents are lowered and the location can continue to attract footfall. Investors prepared to ‘shop around’ themselves are expected to find some retail properties available at attractive prices. There are risks attached, with a few ‘losers’ experiencing further rental falls. So investors will need to be compensated for these risks by finding shops with a greater chance of delivering a winning return than that priced-up in the market.