Merchandise - 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 'Merchandise' priority - why it matters, and what you can do about it.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

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 Merchandise

Range/quality of goods; assortments; merchandising







17th out of 25

3.80 out of 5



5th out of 25

3.60 out of 4

Potentially controllable

25 Priorities

10th out of 25


Very high priority



Merchandise refers to the range, assortment, and quality of goods in a centre. It also refers to whether a centre meets the needs of the catchment through the products and services it offers. Merchandise is not only about availability, but also about pricing, discounts, samples, etc. that customers benefit from (Teller and Reutterer, 2008). Merchandise is about creating brand and place loyalty and on capitalising on positive local sentiment. 

Why does it matter? (Influence)

The merchandise offering of a  centre is one of the most crucial factors for visitation and is directly related to the type and mix of retailers that operate in your town/city. The range and quality of goods, the overall value, the number of samples and discounts, and other retail-related factors that customers can benefit from when shopping are directly influencing the overall retail assortment of your town (Teller and Reutterer, 2008; Hart, Stachow and Cadogan, 2013).

The breadth and depth of merchandise is considered by many shoppers as the most important cognitive/physical attribute shaping perceptions regarding town centre image (Hart et al., 2013). Lack of merchandise combined with a weak retail offer can pose serious threats to the vitality and viability of a town, particularly when it is in close proximity to a bigger centre or an out-of-town shopping centre that can offer a wide range of merchandise, among other benefits (Guy, 1998). Additionally, the continuous growth of online retailing and advancements in deliveries (especially in grocery shopping) also stress the importance of maintaining a range of merchandise that is relevant and representative of your catchment.

What can you do about it? (Control)

Improving merchandise in your town is directly influenced by your ability to attract relevant retailers, even though this is not the only factor. You may think about how you can cooperate with existing retailers in order to better understand customer preferences and requirements. You may think of ways to implement other types of retailing, such as pop-up and artisan retailing, to your town’s retail mix (e.g. by offering market stalls or a space for pop-up stores), as these retailers can provide an antidote to the homogenisation of retail assortment by increasing the breadth and depth of merchandise (e.g. selling local produce, baked goods, handmade crafts).   

Merchandise and COVID-19

As you develop your recovery plans, look at how you can offer opportunities and support to new and small businesses to trade and broaden the merchandise offer, through meanwhile uses, pop-ups, markets, street trading, etc. Merchandise can be used to develop place-based brand loyalty. Encourage enterprising retailers to capitalise on positive local sentiment by working with local artists to develop a range of merchandise celebrating your place. This could include branded PPE, masks and hand sanitiser as well as t-shirts and more traditional collateral.

See also

Attractiveness; Retail offer; Diversity


Guy, C.M. (1998), “‘High street’ retailing in off-centre retail parks: a review of the effectiveness of land use planning policies”, Town Planning Review, Vol. 69 No. 3, pp. 291-313.

Hart, C., Stachow, G. and Cadogan, J.W. (2013), “Conceptualising town centre image and the customer experience”, Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 29Nos 15/16, pp. 1753-1781.

Teller, C. and Reutterer, T. (2008), “The evolving concept of retail attractiveness: what makes retail agglomerations attractive when customers shop at them?”, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 127-143.