It’s been a long, not very hot summer that has seen retailers come (mainly from overseas) and go (mainly among the native big-ticket operators).
It’s been a long, not very hot summer that has seen retailers come (mainly from overseas) and go (mainly among the native big-ticket operators). But the star of the show, without any doubt, has to be the megamall that opened in east London, which seems to go by a variety of names, including Stratford City, Westfield Stratford and, from time to time, merely Stratford.
In fairness, the majority of these labels include the name of that part of east London where the centre is located and there has been no attempt, as happened when the last Westfield centre opened in White City, to rebrand a suburb. And the outcome is positive with many Twitter microbloggers opining that this is a better place to ‘hang’ than its west London alter ego.
And although at times it may appear that little else has been taking place in the retail arena since the last Retail Week Interiors appeared, there has actually been a fair amount of activity. Whether it’s the imminent arrival of Geox on Oxford Street, or the UK’s second Forever 21 on the same thoroughfare, new shops have been springing up in a manner that might seem to question the veracity of the gloomy economic forecasts that currently fill our newspapers. There’s more to come too, with Primark beginning the process of creating a second store in central London and Burberry finding a new space in the former Habitat store on Regent Street.
All of which might also give the impression that London is the only place where anything is happening. Yet visit almost any of the large regional shopping centres and it’s a fair bet that there will be new stores being fitted-out too. This is not to say that things aren’t tough. They are and the top shopfitters table in this issue shows how difficult things have become for those whose business it is to create new stores.
Containing costs, building stores for less and having the right products will see retail expansion programmes continuing, but changing. The UK’s new retail panorama will be more modular than ever as retailers look at ways of streamlining their operations. Fortune, however, may still favour the brave and whenever something truly different comes along, it is remarkable how the crowds flock.
As we head towards the season of goodwill, take nothing for granted, but don’t automatically assume the worst.