UK - Investors scouting secure, income-producing UK retail assets should factor in the number of local shops and convenience stores in their location assessments, according to research published by BNP Paribas Real Estate.

The survey of 100 retail locations found that, although macroeconomic factors such as high unemployment raise the risk ratings of Yorkshire, the Midlands and the North East, London suburbs' relative resilience - at 86% - is the result of inhabitants shopping within their own neighbourhoods.

Major cities pose a higher risk than large towns and regional centres as high petrol prices and consumer caution encourage the trend towards local shopping.

Regional centres are more likely to be located in affluent southern areas.

The report also found major retail centres shifted the centre of retail gravity within the town centre with a deleterious effect on the high street.

The retail risk index bases its weightings on tenants' financial strength, vacancies and proxies for local income, rather than existing covenants.

"A long lease to a strong covenant may not be as secure if a unit has no neighbours," it said.

According to the report's authors, the sector has suffered from structural changes such as the growth of out-of-town developments, the expansion of grocery retailers and online shopping.

Weak consumer confidence has compounded longer-term trends despite a recovery in disposable incomes.

Across the sample, 10% of units pose a 'very high' risk, 20% are either charity shops or vacant, and a further 17% are occupied by retailers that are higher risk.

The researchers deemed only just over half of retailers as 'secure'.

Yet even in high-risk areas potential investors could find opportunities to capitalise on local dynamics.

Bradford, which topped the at-risk list, could hold opportunities to invest in new developments that would make it a retail destination in its own right, said a spokeswoman for the firm.

According to the report, Bradford, with its below-average retail provision, is an "opportune location to mould into a retail destination" from a developer's perspective.