A few years ago, most business experts would have agreed that Britain’s town centres were in decline.

But a new study of the shopping habits of Brits suggests that the good old high street might now be coming back into fashion, with shoppers lapping up the offers from town centre convenience stores.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the findings and what they mean for Britain’s retail industry.

Convenience is king

Convenience stores are becoming more and more popular, and big supermarket chains are diversifying to meet customers’ needs.

Despite their traditional bases in large out-of-town retail parks, the supermarkets have opened over 1600 new convenience stores since 2009 – and consumer attitudes are clearly a large driver behind this move.

Almost half of trips to community shopping centres – defined as locally important retail clusters, often located in town centres – resulted in grocery purchases, and a whopping 65% of consumers said convenience was their main reason for visiting these centres.

While the death of the town centre is a much-repeated line in debates around the future of the retail industry, it looks like the reverse might now be becoming true.

The report, by shopping centre investor Ellandi and estate agent Savills, found that only 15% of British shoppers go to a large shopping centre once a week, while 44% of shoppers only bother going to large centres less than twice a year. As our lives get busier and busier and the amount of time on our hands seems to be ever-decreasing, it looks like Brits are ditching their love of big shopping centres in favour of shopping on the go.

Cheaper goods

It’s not just convenience that shoppers are valuing – but affordability, too.

The statistics show that the number of discount and value retailers on Britain’s high streets has skyrocketed in the last few years, with 5000 more value stores opening since 2009.

This rise accounts for 89% of the growth in all new store openings – a clear indication of where the market is going.

One challenge for the value and discount branch of the retail industry will be location. Discount stores are everywhere, but some branches are situated in large warehouse-style buildings where stock levels can be kept high.

But with more and more shoppers choosing to spend in community shopping centres, there may well be an adjustment as discount stores see the benefits of focusing their offer more and more on the high street.

If you need help with your retail industry recruitment needs, get in touch with the Anthony Gregg Partnership today.

Bury St Edmunds, Abbeygate Street by Martin Pettitt licensed under Creative commons 4