Big supermarkets are unlikely to hit their new store targets in 2018, as independent retailers are in the best position to snap up sites quicker. 

That was the prediction of  Steve Rodell, managing director of retail at leading business property advisors, Christie & Co, who said: “The Co-op and others might make claims about opening 100 stores, but did they hit their targets last year? I don’t think so.”

He said that independent retailers are often able to use local knowledge to grab great sites before they come to the attention of the big grocers.

A now-retired Cardiff retailer that has rented his premises to the Co-op said that even after finding a site, the problems for multiples continue.

“The deal was held up for nearly a year as they waited for various council permissions for loading bays and other changes,” he added. 

Rodell also said the larger format convenience store sites favoured by multiples are also increasingly in demand from symbol operators.

He said: “They’ve changed their target a little bit in terms of store scale, because of inflation, the living wage and other factors the threshold for weekly sales is a higher than it used to be.”

Overall Christie’s reported a 29% increase in convenience, newsagent and forecourt site sales over the past 12 months, but the average sale price decreased by 0.4%.

Rodell said both factors were largely driven by the sale of lower value units to newcomers.