CBRE-released report examines growth trends of UK’s retail destinations

London, 24 October, 2011 – The average spend by shoppers per trip is on the rise, but the number of trips made is falling as UK consumers increasingly travel beyond local destinations to larger cities or out-of-town retail parks, according to new survey results released by CBRE.

The National Survey of Local Shopping Patterns (NSLSP), established in 1996, is the largest and longest-running continuous survey of local shopping patterns in the retail industry. More than 12 million households in Great Britain have contributed details of their shopping destination preferences to the survey, delivering more than 26 million locational responses.

At a time when the retail industry in the United Kingdom is under the spotlight and with retail “guru” Mary Portas due to present her Government-commissioned report by the end of the year looking at ways to halt the decline of the high street, the NSLSP research provides insight into growth trends over the past decade in more than 12,000 shopping destinations, identifying:

•the size of retail destination shopping populations
•the geographic size of catchments and catchment populations
•shopping population and catchment population profiles
•spending potential
•shopping population gains or losses and ‘leakages’ to competing shopping destinations
•changes in market shares over time

As the only long-run time series of local shopping behaviour change available in the UK, the NSLSP results provide a unique view of shopping location growth and decline in Great Britain. The NSLSP research reveals that the negative effects suffered by secondary shopping destinations in recent years are a result of continuing market share competition for visitors between retail outlets rather than a decline in overall consumer spend due to outside economic trends.

Shopping destinations are likely to increase in popularity if the retail offering is improved through new development or the addition of leading brands. Conversely, where no improvements occur, or there is an actual decline in the quality of shopping – usually through the withdrawal of key high-volume retailers – the market share achieved tends to decline. In addition, accessibility change through new road development, changes in parking provision or costs, or public transport availability also impact on visitor numbers.

Key findings from the NSLSP report reveal:

•The population of Great Britain grew by 3.3 million (5.83%) over the period 1998-2009. The relatively rapid rates of population growth gave a significant boost to the number of visitors attracted by most retail destinations – equivalent to an increase of circa £10 billion annually in non-food spending;
•The number of shopping trips over the survey period fell by 18% as consumers migrated to larger towns and cities or opted for out-of-town retail destinations;
•The steady concentration of shopping activity in the largest trading locations is increasing the average shopping trip times and distance that consumers travel to retail destinations;
•Town centres currently attract 47.9 million (79.7%) of the population for comparison goods shopping purposes – an increase of 1.64% in shopping population size since 1998, but an overall market share loss of -4.02%. Major gains and losses are however limited to a very small proportion of trading locations;
•Out-of-town trading locations currently attract 5.7 million (9.6%) of the population for comparison goods shopping purposes, an increase of 61% since 1998 and an overall market share increase of 53.37%;

•Towns with development are diverting trade from towns without; however, this is more of a diversion from old shopping stock to new, and from small space to big, rather than a diversion from town centre to out-of-town retail destinations;
•More than 60% of the space added post-1965 was in the top 200 locations. About 65% of space developed over the 1998-2009 period was located in the same locations, further increasing the concentration of shopping activity in larger centres;
•There is a strong inverse correlation between the availability of shopping locally and the appetite of shoppers to purchase comparison goods via the internet;

Mark Teale, Head of Retail Research, CBRE, commented:

“Shoppers are increasingly attracted to larger but more distant trading locations that offer a greater choice of retailers and a more modern shopping experience. This in turn is leading to a decline in the average number of trips made by consumers. As these shopping patterns are largely determined by the mix of retailers and travel distance or cost, it’s likely that the recent surge in fuel cost inflation will result in a further decline in the average number of shopping trips made by consumers.

“Whether the decline in shopping trip frequency actually matters is a moot point. As retail sales grew significantly over the period of the study - and continued to grow even following the onset of the 2007 recession - the decline in trip frequency implies a significant increase in average trip spends. The negative effects suffered by so many smaller secondary or tertiary trading locations over the last three years consequently appear more to do with continuing market share movements between retail destinations within the stock rather than outside economic trends.”