Nine out of 10 retail sales throughout the year still ‘touch’ a physical store, emphasising the importance of shopping centres at a time like Christmas.
Research, which we recently carried out with Savills, goes on to show that the potential for physical spaces to drive consumer spend will increase in the next five years, when bricks-and-mortar sales and in-store browsing are set to experience double-digit growth.
“Landlords are especially well placed to meet this desire for experiences that are unique to the physical world and cannot generally be delivered on a high street with fragmented ownership”
That’s why we invest heavily every year to provide the intangible festive feeling that will attract eager and enthusiastic shoppers to our retailers’ stores during the autumn and winter months.
When we asked members of our dedicated shopper panel what was key to them while Christmas shopping, they told us it was the thrill of the experience.
People love the buzz, the decorations and the range of products available.
And thanks to their strong control over every aspect of a shopping centre’s look and feel, landlords are especially well placed to meet this desire for experiences that are unique to the physical world and cannot generally be delivered on a high street with fragmented ownership.
The coming together of online and offline shopping experiences at this time of year can be seen in Selfridges’ window display, as they are excitedly shared on social media while ultimately promoting the magic of the physical Christmas shopping trip.
At Intu, we’ve adapted to these changing shopping behaviours – impacted by social media, new technology and evolving consumer habits – by utilising the very best the physical and digital worlds can provide to offer shoppers something that goes far beyond the transactional.
Under this kind of careful management and in partnership with great retailers and brands, our centres have evolved into places where shoppers want to spend time.
Reasons to visit
This means customers are motivated to visit us for a number of reasons, whether it’s to try on items they’ve been researching online, popping in for a coffee or lunch break convenience purchase, or taking part in a fun day out with friends and family.
Over Christmas, this involves providing children with the much-reminisced experience of a magical visit to Santa’s grotto, giving customers the opportunity to take a spin around an ice rink and enjoy a festive film and drink with friends.
Or simply making sure we’re offering the right retail mix where customers can take some time to find the best gifts, unearthing surprise and impulse buys from the wide range of shops on offer.
Because whether it’s shopping, socialising, having fun, or a combination of all three, our job as a shopping centre landlord is to create the perfect shopping experience that drives customers into stores.
And if we get it right this Christmas, happy customers will continue to visit in their millions to the benefit of our retailers.
- David Fischel is chief executive of Intu