Beyond Retail: Ellandi identifies ingredients to for community shopping centre survival

The new report, entitled Beyond Retail, Ellandi examines how physical retail can ensure it continues to succeed and remain relevant in the context of the consumer-driven changes faced by the sector, underpinned by digitalisation.  

Over the past two years, Ellandi’s consumer research has highlighted both the importance of CSC in the retail hierarchy as well as evidencing their resilience to changing shopping patterns, notably in relation to the growth of e-commerce.

Ellandi says as consumer behaviour increasingly shifts towards multi-purpose visits where retailing, leisure, and use of amenities and public services are incorporated into one trip, successful CSC must continue to evolve from traditional retail to mixed-use space.

Drawing upon responses from 9,500 shopper interviews conducted across 30 CSC, Ellandi has produced the most comprehensive and geographically diverse consumer survey of its kind in partnership with Knight Frank.

The survey suggests that while leisure and catering complement retail trips by driving dwell time and spend, facilities, amenities and the general environment ensure visitors come back to day after day. Occupiers such as Greggs, Costa, budget gyms and health services are as relevant, if not more so, than an artisan baker or a cinema in these locations.

Survey highlights:

  • 85% of people surveyed reported visiting a CSC with family and/or friends, providing options for families with young children and facilities for those with impaired mobility, is critical to supporting ongoing use of town centres by all members of the community;
  • 84% of visitors also carry out a non-retail activity at a CSC, but significantly, 65% of customers state that they would visit a retail location more frequently with the introduction of additional non-retail uses;
  • 35% of visitors stated that they would like more non-retail services and amenities, the town centre location of community schemes presents the prefect opportunity to centralise these types of occupier, transforming retail space into a community hub;
  • 26% of survey respondents stated that an improvement in accessible facilities would encourage them to visit more frequently and remain in the centre longer;
  • 22% of respondents stated that an increased leisure offer would encourage them to visit a community centre more often.
  • 36% of visitors stated they combine a shopping trip with eating or drinking onsite, and a further 32% of visitors voicing their wishes for additional food & beverage facilities.

Knight Frank’s Stephen Springham and Ellandi’s Isobel Hease, joint authors of the survey report, explain:

“At both ends of the polarisation play, owners of retail space need to embrace uses that are complementary to their retail offer, however in CSC this is more likely to be a civic, social, educational or health use.

“Town centre use is still a social activity with over 85% of respondents questioned being with family or friends. Stakeholders in town centres need to appreciate and invest in the societal role these places have in their communities.

“Despite being convenient to their catchment CSC should be doing more to capitalise on omni-channel retail, and our research suggests there is a significant upside to be achieved if this can be changed. Whilst food and beverage has a crucial role to play in community schemes, “coffee and carbs” is likely to be more relevant than traditional family dining.

“Finding a specific and correct role for space based on the specific needs of the visitors is crucial in ensuring Community schemes remain relevant in their regional and local hierarchy.”

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