A retail property expert believes now is the time for experienced retailers to invest in new stores, as property prices have reached rock-bottom.

Retail property values fell 9.8% in 2009, according to the latest Christie & Co Business Outlook. Properties are now worth 16% less than they were at the market's peak in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Christie's head of retail Tony Evans said: "We've reached the bottom of the market and there is a great opportunity for proven retailers to grow their businesses.

"The retail sector has not been immune to the economic downturn, however it has remained more robust, with property values falling less than in other markets. But it has given some local operators the chance to build their estate."

He added that most of the retail property sold last year was to experienced traders. "Banks are more nervous about who they give funding to, so first-time buyers with no track record in the market will find it tough," he said.

"Those who are already in the market will have assets to back up applications."