Retail Offer - 25 'vital and viable' priorities
Research from the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University has identified the Top 25 priorities that can influence high street vitality and viability. This resource introduces the 'Retail Offer' priority - why it matters, and what you can do about it.
What are the 25 vital and viable priorities?
Research from the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University has identified the Top 25 priorities that can influence high street vitality and viability. The framework was created by experts from a range of disciplines and other stakeholders to foster cross-disciplinary knowledge and broadening real-world understanding of the changing nature of the high street.
The 25 priorities are practically orientated and, given their ability to be controlled or influenced at a town level, are fairly internally focussed. For each of the priorities you will find an introduction to evidence that describes the priority, suggests what it covers, discusses how it might be implemented and the level of control associated with it.
Additionally, you will find suggestions of what the priority could mean for implementation during the COVID-19 recovery stage.
Factors included in Retail Offer
Retailer offer; retailer representation
|Influence||2nd out of 25||4.48 out of 5||Highly Influential|
|Control||14th out of 25||3.39 out of 4||Potentially controllable|
|25 Priorities||2nd out of 25||15.18||Very high priority|
Retail offer includes the overall range of retailers and services available on the High Street, and highlights the availability and variety of the products and services (comparison/convenience, luxury, discount), retail channels (store-based, online only, click and collect) and retail formats (from small independent shops to shopping centres) that are aimed at satisfying the needs of consumers (González-Benito, 2005).
Why does it matter? (Influence)
The centre’s retail offer attracts a lot of people to a location (also, see Diversity). Having a retail mix that is relevant, diverse, and reflects the needs and wants of your catchment (Léo and Philippe, 2002) is key to a centre’s vitality and viability.
Historically, multiple retailers have been associated with bigger centres; but for many towns it is the independent retailers and traders (see also Markets) that are the most important element in terms of providing a distinctive and differentiated retail mix. Furthermore, it has been found that lack of variety in store type can lead to customer dissatisfaction (Wrigley and Lambiri, 2015), thereby indicating the need for some retailer diversity in centres.
What can you do about it? (Control)
Until recently, attracting certain retailers into a centre was something only shopping centre managers and local economic development departments (in the case of bigger retailers) did; it was not in the remit of the place manager. But this is now changing. Most multiple retailers have sophisticated location decision-making departments. So you may think they choose you, rather than the other way round; but not always. With the breakdown in the function of the traditional retail hierarchy, and an over-reliance on locating in the top 100 centres (which will fuel operating costs), retailers need more local intelligence to make their location decisions. Being proactive by sharing your local data (such as footfall, demographics, surveys) and consulting with your local catchment to make a case for the inclusion of certain retailers may be a good strategy going forward.
Retail Offer and COVID-19
Develop a clear understanding of retailers’ plans, likely closures, potential vacancies and adapted business models to get a clear picture of your future offer / gaps in your offer. Encourage all your retailers to publish whether they are temporarily closed or, if not, their up to date shopping hours on google maps – that way you can tell more easily what and where the offer is, for management purposes, and your catchment can know what’s open (and when!). Make use of existing apps to develop a local delivery offer and complement the overall retail offer in support of smaller businesses.
Retailers in the locality may be more networked now, driven by the need to react to COVID-19 and share information and support, and place managers may be better able to represent and involve them in planning and delivery. If you cannot communicate with all your retailers easily then find a way to do this. Talking to the retailers that can open in the various phases of exit will be important. Monitor and react to closures and vacancies by putting delivery plan into action, liaison with landlords, pop-ups and temporary uses. Keep a register of available property and publish it. The end goal should be that retail offer will be appropriately linked to the catchment. Retail is part of a wider town centre ecosystem that includes services, resident communities, leisure, education and social connection. Retailers and landlords should be included in the development and delivery of the place strategy and should have an investment in the success of the town centre.
Activity; Non-Retail Offer; Anchors; Merchandise; Diversity
González-Benito Ó (2005) Spatial competitive interaction of retail store formats: modeling proposal and empirical results. Journal of Business Research 58(4): 457–466.
Léo P-Y and Philippe J (2002) Retail Centres: Location and Consumer’s Satisfaction. The Service Industries Journal, 22(1): 122–146.
Wrigley N and Lambiri D (2015) British High Streets: from Crisis to Recovery? A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence. Southampton. Available at: https://thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk/pdf/GBHS-British-High-Streets-Crisis-to-Recovery.pdf