St Albans and Harpenden are some of UK's top shopping destinations

Harpenden High Street.

Harpenden High Street. - Credit: Danny Loo

The district has some of the top shopping destinations in Britain, according to new research ranking the nation’s best performing retail centres.

Harpenden was placed at number 10 in the annual list of 1,000 retail centres compiled by strategic retail property consultancy, Harper Dennis Hobbs (HDH) - while St Albans came in at 23rd.

It was a fall of one place for Harpenden from its previous position in 9th, but St Albans climbed nine places compared to the 2021 rankings.

The HDH Vitality Ranking determines the health of high streets and shopping centres by analysing a number of factors, including vacancy rates, resident’s movement and suitability to local consumer demands.

St Peter's Street, St Albans city centre.

St Peter's Street, St Albans city centre. - Credit: Archant

Oliver Zissman, St Albans BID board director and founder of Leafy said: “St Albans held its appeal during the pandemic, with extra markets, activities and major events and several TV campaigns throughout 2020 and 2021. Our vibrant market town was the destination of choice for new business openings including specialist independents and big brand names. 

"Post pandemic, St Albans continues to go from strength to strength with the city centre investment, via the BID, improving our street scene, driving footfall with extra events and animations, and promoting St Albans as a premium, must-visit destination.”

Andy Metherell, head of retail consultancy at HDH, explained: “The latest HDH Vitality Ranking reflects the realities that consumers and occupiers have had to face over the past year, and that continues into 2022. The Delta variant’s effect on public health and the uncertainty around the impact of the Omicron variant resulted in the continuation of restrictions on consumer movement and occupier trading, leading to our rankings being comparable to the listing in 2021.”

Small commuter towns, often with significant levels of wealth, retained their higher rankings this year, as remote working led to more localised consumer spending. Some larger centres rose in the ranking from 2021, many of which benefited from a significant increase in domestic tourism.