Last edited 10 Aug 2017

Retail buildings

The term ‘retail’ refers to the sale of goods to the public for use or consumption rather than for resale. This is as opposed to wholesale, which refers to the selling of goods in larger quantities to be sold on by retailers at a profit.

Retail buildings are sometimes very broadly described as ‘shops’, however, they can take a wide range of generic forms:

  • Town centre shops.
  • Supermarkets and superstores.
  • Retail warehouses and retail parks.
  • Mixed use buildings, typically with retail spaces on the ground floor. These may be purpose built, or may be converted housing.

For the purposes of fire safety, the approved documents to the building regulations define shops and commercial purpose groups as: 'Shops or premises used for a retail trade or business (including the sale to members of the public of food or drink for immediate consumption and retail by auction, self-selection and over-the-counter wholesale trading, the business of lending books or periodicals for gain and the business of a barber or hairdresser and the rental of storage space to the public) and premises to which the public is invited to deliver or collect goods in connection with their hire repair or other treatment, or (except in the case of repair of motor vehicles) where they themselves may carry out such repairs or other treatments.'

For planning permission purposes, use class A1 ‘Shops’ is defined as: Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes.

Retail warehouses are large, single-level stores, typically with a minimum of 1000 square metres gross retail floorspace and normally selling goods for home improvement or gardening, furniture, electrical goods, carpets and so on. They are most commonly found in the fringe of towns or in out of town locations. See Retail warehouse for more information.

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), for valuation purposes, ‘retail premises are divided into a number of zones each of a depth of 6.1 metres - or 20 feet. Zone A closest to the window is most valuable with the value decreasing with distance from the frontage: Zone B is the next 6.1 metres, then Zone C until the entire depth of the retail area is allocated to a zone - anything after Zone C is usually defined as the remainder.’ Ref https://www.rics.org/uk/knowledge/glossary/zoning/

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