The Big Nine
Quarterly review of take-up in the major regional office occupier markets in the UK.
Total take-up across the Big Nine cities amounted to 5.6 million sq ft during 2020, the lowest annual figure following the Global Financial Crisis and 33% down on the ten-year average. In most cities, take-up was severely impacted by the pandemic. However, activity remained robust in Newcastle and Bristol, which fared the best of the nine cities.
Activity improved in Q4, with take-up amounting to 1.5 million sq ft, 25% down on the ten-year average but higher than the previous quarter and double the amount transacted during the spring lockdown in Q2. Activity towards the end of the year included a number of pre-letting deals, such as 175,000 sq ft to BT in Manchester and 121,000 sq ft to Legal and General in Cardiff.
Headline rental levels have largely sustained throughout the pandemic and in some cases increased as landlords have held firm, although there is some evidence that rent-free periods have moved out slightly.