Changing Climate for UK Retail


The retail sales data released by the Office for National Statistics earlier this year showed a further decline and continuing slowdown for the high street. This is likely because of a fundamental shift in the way we live and this is in large due to the internet. This presents a huge opportunity for how future retail parks are designed and creating regional destination centres with a new model.


Since the easy access of everything through the internet and mobile devices, people are able to obtain anything they need through a few clicks of a mouse or taps of a screen. It is not only about the ease of being able to obtain almost anything we need online but also in how we are beginning to understand and spend our time. Consumers now no longer need to spend hours of their time travelling and wading through the congestion of others to pick up items when they can simply have them delivered to their door within 24 hours and even hours in certain parts of the UK. Consumers also know that they are more likely to get a better deal online so there is very little, if any, benefit in them using up their finite resource of time and the extra costs associated with buying in store. People are more likely to travel to these retail destinations if it is deemed to be worth the time. Today it is all about the experience.


With online sales at 17.4% of the total retail market and continuing to rise it is only a matter of time before the old traditional model of the high street disappears completely. The high street and retailers need to reinvent their stores to create more of an experience for the buyer, you only need to look to John Lewis and Debenhams who now hold more in-store events with the intention of luring shoppers in.


Retail Parks being built today have a huge opportunity to adapt to this transitional market creating a more fluid experience for the customer and creating destination places where people want to spend their time. It is not that people do not want to visit places and spend their time out of the home it is that traditional retail parks do not provide the experience the consumer is looking for.

Photo: Lily Banse

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