Newcastle's Northumberland Street is no longer exclusively the most expensive shopping street in the UK outside London.
Tyneside's premier shopping parade now shares the mantle with Manchester's Market Square, according to Cushman & Wakefield's Main Streets Across The World 2006 survey.
Northumberland Street's rents performed poorly compared to most other UK high streets, and it was one of only three out of a dozen streets surveyed by the property agent to have posted nil rental growth in 2006.
Zone A rents on the city centre street remained firmly rooted at £325 per sq ft during the year, compared with a 8.3% increase in Manchester (Market Square, £325 per sq ft) and third placed Birmingham's High Street, which jumped 6.7% to £320 per sq ft.
Edinburgh's Princes Street (£220 per sq ft) and London's Brompton Street (£480 per sq ft) were the only other UK high streets to fail to move retail rents on from last year's levels. Cardiff's Queen Street (9.3% increase to £295 per sq ft) and Glasgow's Buchanan Street (8.7% to £250) recorded the largest year-on-year rental growth.
Rents on Northumberland Street failed to move on from the reported £330 per sq ft for T-Mobile's lease for the former all:sports store in January. The letting bettered the £306 per sq ft fashion retailer Zara paid for its store at 40-42 in July 2003, but local property agents believe a lack of prime space available to let may have held rents back so far this year.
Bob Fletcher, director at Sanderson Weatherall in Newcastle said: "Rents can only increase if there has been (letting) activity and there has been no activity in the prime part of Northumberland Street to move rents on this year, whereas in Manchester there has no doubt been deals that they can hang their hats on and say there has been growth.
"If a unit did come up on a prime part of Northumberland Street, there would be immediate and huge demand for it and we'd see an increase off the current levels."
Mr Fletcher, who classes the western side of the street, between department stores Marks & Spencer and Fenwick, as its prime part, estimated a Zone A rent of £350 per sq ft could be negotiated if one of the six shops in this strip was to come on to the market.
The street's lacklustre rental performance, on the face of it, would appear a worrying development for the property industry on Tyneside, ahead of the £170m redevelopment of nearby Eldon Square shopping centre and the eastern side of Pilgrim Street.
Developer Multiplex will lodge plans next year for a 1m sq ft scheme on the street south of Northumberland Street which is seen as important for retailers House of Fraser and Selfridges, which have long-standing requirements for 100,000 sq ft or more in the city.
David Furniss, head of property agent Atisreal, Newcastle, said retail rents had seen "greater growth over time, probably greater than many centres in the report. However, we are in a period of consolidation which will be followed by a period of renewal."
He said much growth in retail rents in other cities was attributable to new development attracting consumers, and retailers, to those centres: "As soon as Newcastle gets into the development phase we'll see growth."
Mr Fletcher said: "We have become a nation of shoppers, and it is the nature of retailing that people will go to where they can get a new shopping experience.
"Eldon Square is 30 years old and shoppers don't get that new experience from Newcastle. They prefer Manchester or Glasgow or Leeds, which have had shopping and leisure developments in the past five years, which perhaps had an effect on numbers shopping in Newcastle and helped keep rents down."
House of Fraser 100,000/200,000
New Heights 2,500/12,000
Debenhams 100,000 +
Next 80,000 +
Massimo Dutti 2,000/5,000