Retail is an industry that is changing rapidly.
Over the last three years, the sector (and those operating in it) have been challenged by a number of factors – not least the growing preference from consumers to buy their goods online.
The public is spoilt for choice when it comes to buying a product.
With a click of a button we can buy our weekly food shop or refresh our wardrobes and we don’t even need to leave the house.
This change in behaviour is one that developers are constantly battling. How can they adapt their developments to meet the need of this more demanding and flexible customer?
Many developers have adapted to this change differently, depending on what their retail offering is – whether it’s food or otherwise.
The Co-op, for example, shifted its strategy back in 2013 as a result of changing customer demand.
Its construction director Suky Atwal explained at a Mace Insight breakfast briefing this week that the company started to focus on smaller convenience stores (rather than big supermarkets) because they were growing in popularity, taking in more cash and – on the development side – cheaper to fit out.
He was joined on a panel by a number of experts from Hammerson, London First and WPI Economics, all of whom had their own experiences and views on how the market was changing and what the sector should be doing to adapt to this change.
A big theme running through their discussion was how retail had the ability to boost economic growth and regeneration both in London and the regions, regardless of the sector’s rapid evolution.
Examples given included the renovation of Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre and the construction of Westfield’s Stratford development, described as the “ultimate example” of how retail can boost wider regeneration.
However, the panel agreed there was still work to be done on tying the retail and residential sectors together.
One audience member asked the panel how many residential developers they knew that had a strong retail offering and vice-versa. The answer? Zero.
The commercial models behind residential and retail businesses do, of course, vary.
But there is an argument to be had about how these two sectors come together, particularly when delivering long-term developments that stand the test of time.
Underestimating the importance of place-making could be to the detriment of a development.
After all, if you build something with substance and character that people truly want to live in, that can only be a good thing for them and for the developer behind the scheme.
60 seconds with Bam Nuttall CEO Steve Fox ahead of the CN Summit.
CN asked Mr Fox for his views on the major talking points ahead of his appearance at the Summit on 11-12 October.