Post-pandemic retail more focused than ever on prime space
There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the increasing polarisation of physical retail as ‘supermalls’ and other top destinations draw the best tenants while the rest goes into decline. Now a new report seems to confirm that trend.
Property giant Landsec (in partnership with Censuswide) released a study claiming “restored demand from both brands and the public for prime retail and hospitality locations across the UK”.
It polled more than 250 senior leaders, decision-makers and strategy chiefs across the UK the retail and hospitality sectors and said: “In the face of economic uncertainty, retail brands are prioritising a blend of prime locations that drive footfall, provide high-quality space, enable in-person customer service and an ability to integrate in-store and online shopping experiences.”
Some 91% of respondents confirmed they’re prioritising UK city centre locations like Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow when making investment decisions, “further demonstrating the attraction of ‘prime’ across high street household names as well as independent retailers and digital native businesses”.
That's also interesting because city centres have struggled since the pandemic, but retail executives are clearly expecting them to bounce back in the years ahead.
In addition, 78% of retailers said that physical store investments need to support online services as click & collect points, product service stations and helpdesks, which are all becoming more important to consumers.
Landsec added that “the ‘flight to prime’ doesn’t just apply to business. Shoppers are increasingly demonstrating their preference for prime by placing a premium on the very best locations to spend their time and money with two-thirds of retail and hospitality brands agreeing that the current market conditions are driving a flight to prime amongst consumers”.
The study said brands are responding to evolving shopping habits “by focusing on high-performing spaces in flagship, catchment-dominant destinations; spaces that meet shoppers where they are and guarantee a combination of footfall and brand awareness that delivers sales both on and off-line. In addition, 64% of respondents agreed customer service is among the most important functions of a store as retail guests take greater care over their purchases”.
Another interesting development is that there’s also significant interest among retail and hospitality brands "in diversifying the ways in which physical space is used; with a high percentage of respondents considering using physical stores to supplement content production, community work and co-working, or who already are (81%, 82% and 84% respectively). As retailers look to use space for alternative uses there are new opportunities for brands who chose to break down barriers for guests”.
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