Research

UK Big 6 Report H1 2021

The easing of lockdown measures and the return to the office resulted in a marginal uptick in leasing across the Big 6, but which cities performed best?

September 16, 2021

The Big 6 leasing activity recorded a better H1 2021 than 2020 with smaller transactions making up the majority of deals. Professional services was the most active business sector by floorspace transacted during H1, with 20% of all take-up, followed by public administration and TMT, both with a 16% share. With evidence of more positive market sentiment being reflected in an upturn in active demand and viewings, total volumes for H2 are expected to be stronger and the outturn for the year should exceed the 2020 low of 3.1 million sq ft.

The level of supply continued to increase during H1, but positively, signs are that vacancy has reached its peak, with vacancy rates plateauing between Q1 and Q2 2021. The vacancy rate stood at 5.8% as at end June 2021, an increase of 70bp compared to the end of 2020.

Prime rents continued to increase across the Big 6, but at a slower rate than recorded in the latter part of 2020. With the easing of lockdown measures continuing, marginal growth is expected in the second half of the year. 

The UK investment market’s post-pandemic recovery accelerated during the second quarter of 2021, with a record-breaking total of £16.9bn transacted across all sectors. This brought overall H1 volumes to £28.5bn, an increase of 105% on the first half of 2020, and 22% above the 10-year H1 average.

Read more in our H1 2021 Big 6 office market report.

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