In any given week, you can find headlines that forecast doom and gloom for retail executives who manage physical outlets.
The recent rash of closures and rescue bids makes for sober reading too. As does news that online retailers emerged the winners during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
But there are other news stories that paint a different picture. Peppered liberally throughout the UK are some exciting projects to build new shopping developments.
According to Barclaycard (which handles around half of the UK’s debit and credit card transactions), Black Friday spending showed a 7% increase on 2016’s figures.
However, according to analysts, the actual number of visitors to UK high streets, shopping centres and retail parks fell during that weekend.
Online and offline retailer John Lewis announced that Black Friday was judged to be successful, not least as it accounted for one of the company’s busiest ever single hours of online trading.
The thirst for online pre-Christmas bargains was clearly evident.
New shopping centres coming 2018
Leeds City Council has recently awarded a contract to Town Centre Securities to develop a new £20m scheme adjacent to the relatively recently completed Victoria Gate Shopping Centre. This new major development will include retail outlets, cafes, restaurants, bars and takeaways.
Further north, Edinburgh based Ediston Real Estate has recently lodged a proposal of application notice to Aberdeenshire Council, to build a £15 million retail development at Hill of Banchory.
Meanwhile, there are various substantial new shopping developments and retail parks planned across the Midlands in 2018.
These are just examples of the confidence retail executives have that consumers will still want to visit physical stores in sufficient numbers to warrant the investment.
Is polarisation the way forward?
Perhaps the question to answer is whether online and offline retailing are beginning to offer two different experiences.
British consumers clearly equate e-commerce with convenience and “bargains”.
Rather than competing with this, perhaps physical stores need to make even more of their ability to provide an enjoyable experience; shopping as a therapeutic, social and escapist activity.
This makes it highly significant that many of the new retail offerings sit within developments housing dining out and leisure facilities too.
The eating out market in the UK is worth in excess of £54 billion and continues to grow.
Offline retailers are increasingly creating synergy with that, and parcelling up shopping as a “hobby” and great day out.
Making the most of this ever-widening swing towards pleasure, rather than functionality, means having a decision-making team with a creative vision.
For help in finding retail executives with attributes to succeed in a tough but exciting new business landscape, contact us today.