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Published:  17 January, 2007

== Research highlights the changing face of shopping malls ==

Landlords and retailers alike have raised the bar in recent years with regards to creating the ultimate shopping centre experience. The Going Shopping 2006 analysis, carried out by Trevor Wood Associates in conjunction with Savills, highlights in its results that it is not just about increasing and enhancing the tenant mix, but also combining factors such as: transport links and parking provisions, leisure and other facilities; a convenience/comparison mix; extended opening hours and enhanced overall attractiveness.

Each shopping centre in the UK currently trading and larger than 50,000 sq ft was ranked by overall attractiveness to shoppers, retailers and investors by confirming detailed information, including every tenant, for each scheme. The research covered over 850 shopping centres, shopping and leisure centres, shopping parks and factory outlets.

The research shows that the standards are constantly being raised both by retailers and landlords to provide a centre that offers the ultimate shopping experience and a real point of difference. There is particular emphasis on forging strong links between leisure and retail, and also providing complementary catering facilities, along with parking and transport links to create accessible shopping facilities that appeal to the whole family.

Accessibility is a main criterion for many shoppers and therefore transport links are fundamental to the success of any shopping scheme. The research shows that this demand is being acknowledged with 39 of the 100 largest schemes now benefiting from an integral bus station; nine of the 100 leading schemes encompassing an integrated or adjacent railway station and 424 of the 500 leading schemes having integral parking facilities. Moreover, there are 40 shopping developments that provide more than 2,000 integral parking spaces.

To complete the shopping experience, 119 of the top 500 schemes have included a food court, with 25 schemes providing over 500 food court seats. Furthermore, multiplex cinemas, which augment the diversity on offer to shoppers, can be found in 36 of the leading 500 schemes.

Going Shopping 2006 - The Definitive Guide to Shopping Centres is priced £295, please contact Trevor Wood Associates on 01494 715846 to order your copy.

Chris Blair, Head of in-town retail, Savills

== Data holds the key to understanding the customer ==

For both shopping centres and retailers, the installation of people-counting systems is a significant step forward (see 'Number crunchers', Shopping Centre, December, pp. 18-19). Any effort to further understand retail habits and trends should be applauded.

Whilst the benefit of knowing how many people are entering the shops is transparent, surely it is equally valuable to understand who is visitng indididual shops, why, what promotion has driven them there and how easy the store was to find? Sophisticated data of this type can be captured within the current retail environment and delivered in a monthly statistical report. For example, this level of information is made available through ScreenFX's 'InfoPods', which direct customers around the malls and supply customer shopping and promotional information.

Whilst the new people counting system will undoubtedly improve the relationship between shopping centre owners and retailers, greater use of touchscreen systems and data capture software will strengthen the understanding of brands and the way they are marketed. This technology allows brand owners, who include centre retailers, to identify instantly how successful their marketing initiatives are and who is engaging with them. Any tool that can improve this relationship will help drive up sales and therefore create a more successful shopping centre.

David Hughes, Head of Property, ScreenFX plc