The retail industry has seen some significant changes in the past decade. Whilst media focus is often on the decline of the high street, some more positive developments are taking place at retail parks and centres as destinations evolve to offer a more experiential shopping experience. Research conducted in 2018 by CACI surveyed over 230 retail centres and identified trends in reduced frequency, dwell time and retail spend. Consumer expectations are changing but opportunities are there for forward thinking retail centres and retail parks to re-invent themselves with an enhanced experience offer.
Good accessibility, the range of retail units, the provision of catering and free parking help to attract visitors to sites and one of the the challenge for investors is to reverse the trend of decreasing dwell time. Traditionally, leisure in retail parks has centred around food and beverage operators. The catering market is incredibly competitive with several major operators collapsing in recent years despite spend being at its highest level in five years.
Retailers are now increasingly turning to leisure tenants who will increase dwell times during the day. Clip’n’climb, trampolining and soft play are becoming regular retail park attractions, driving footfall throughout the year and offering an all-weather multi-generational visitor experience.
Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield is targeting a variety of audiences with a new ‘Rock-up’ Clip’n’climb advertised alongside a series of events called the ‘Meadowhall sessions’, including Beer tasting, Gin school, photography workshops and more.
Many retail parks located out of town in rural locations are also utilising the additional resource of external space for investment. One of the most recent and largest new retail offerings in the UK is Rushden Lakes, a multi-million-pound development in Northamptonshire. The latest phase of the development is due to complete this year, launching a number of new leisure units. Rushden Lakes sits within a nature reserve which has been a key selling point for the retail scheme. Cycle hire, canoe hire and a wetland visitor centre encourage visitors to stay longer to enjoy an immersive experience.
In July ‘18, Springfields Outlet in Lincolnshire opened Adventure Land. The park features a JCB young driver’s zone and treetop village among its highlights. Festival Park Shopping in Ebbw Vale, Gwent sits amidst beautiful parklands, offering a range of activities to visitors including Supertubing, adventure castle and owl sanctuary.
Both Adventure Land at Springfields Outlet Shopping and Leisure and Supertubing at Festival Park are operated by Planning Solutions Limited, the operational sister company of Planning Solutions Consulting.
We can offer a unique insight, helping retail centres to evolve their offer and build a sustainable future. For more details contact please don’t hesitate to phone or email Richard Linington on 023 9248 1999.