Experian says that national retail footfall has fallen by 3% in Q1, a trend CSC has followed with a 2% fall.
Occupancy at its portfolio, which includes 10 of the UK top 25 shopping centres, has fallen to 94.3%. It is noticeable that demand for catering and leisure space at the major centres is very strong, underlining the fact that the driver of much destination shopping is shopping as a leisure activity in itself. CSC is providing more catering space at the Metrocentre (Gateshead), The Potteries (Stoke-on-Trent), and Queen's Gardens in Bromley, while new leisure space is planned for Barton Square, Trafford Centre and The Potteries. There is a very limited new supply of retail space in the national pipeline, which focusses the attention of expansionist firms on the existing space.
At 31 March 2012, net external debt reduced marginally to £3.3 billion and the debt to assets ratio (based on 31 December valuations) was 48%. A new valuation at H1 will doubtless show a fall after the IPD index fell 1.1% in Q1, which may bring this ratio to around the self imposed 50% maximum.
Shares in CSC Group closed last night at 319.3p which values the REIT at £2.799 billion.