RealCast: Office upgrades expected, ‘real’ retail back in play, resi gets a leg-up

Nicol Dynes, Dan Innes, Paul Strohm and Richard Betts

In the spotlight this week:

While data from proptech company Metrikus reveals that workers more UK workers were present in office during the third week of April than at any other point since the start of the pandemic, Knight Frank reports that one in four firms will relocate their corporate headquarters after the pandemic.

The race for space will be led by the technology sector where profits have increased dramatically. And while Amazon also announces dramatic profit increases, a UN report discloses that e-commerce worldwide now commands $26 trillion and the global share of retail has increased to 19%, but in South Korea the figure is 26%.

Traditional retail is back in play, however, as a Real Asset Media investment briefing has highlighted. Experts said now Europe’s economy is opening up, government support, increased consumer confidence and lockdown savings ready to be spent, all bode well for non-food retail. Goldman Sachs predicts high growth in both the US and UK but Barclays Boss Jes Staley even predicts the biggest economic boom since 1948 for the UK.

Nevertheless, while Parisians look forward to retail reopening this month, Unibail Rodamco Westfield counts the cost of the lockdown with a 40.8% year-on-year fall in revenue in Q1. But the company is moving forward and as well as linking its finance directly to sustainability targets, it has also submitted plans for a £1.3 billion residential scheme next to its Westfield London mall with buildings up to 45 storeys high providing 1,760 homes.

Elsewhere in the UK capital, the City of London Corporation is to relax planning to allow conversion of empty office space into resi in a bid to revive the area. The plans include about 35% affordable housing.

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