DEMAND for industrial property and offices in the North West has risen, while demand for shop space has dropped, according to RICS.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors says the trends are being driven by "changing shopping habits and political uncertainty".

The professional body's commercial market survey for October to December 2018 showed 32 per cent of the North West's commercial property surveyors reported a rise in demand for industrial property such as warehouses. That was up from 24 per cent in July to September.

Fifteen per cent also saw a greater demand for offices, up from 12 per cent.

However, just over half the surveyors who responded (51 per cent) said demand for shops in the North West had fallen, reflecting the "changing face of the high street". That figure was up from 39 per cent in July to September 2018.

“The high street continues see the ongoing retail decline," said Kevin Tobin, head of estates and valuation services for property company Jacobs, "and I expect to see a number of large department store chains struggle over the next 12 months.

"City and town centres need to totally re-think how they work and what their main function should be.

"Large, bold, and decisive investment will be required quickly to prevent town centres becoming forgotten spaces.”

Despite occupiers' eagerness for industrial units and offices, surveyors said there was a shortage of both.

However, the number of empty shops edged up, with 42 per cent saying they had seen an increase in available retail space - up from 30 per cent.

RICS said 42 per cent of surveyors expected rents for prime retail space to fall in the coming year.

Expectations for industrial and office space were more positive, with 65 per cent of surveyors who responded expecting to see rents for prime industrial units increase in the coming year. Forty-seven per cent anticipated a rise in rents for prime office space.