More than 100 million shoppers visit a shopping centre every month. A regular visit to the local centre or retail park is an integral part of most of our lives with many centres now being at physical and social heart of their respective communities. However, future potential for retail-led investment in smaller towns could be put in danger by a failure of public sector bodies to embrace private investment more readily.
Research published today (15 July 2004) by retail property organisation BCSC clearly demonstrates both the importance of the shopping centre industry in the UK – both to the national economy and to people’s daily lives – and, says BCSC president Andrew Ogg , its potential for driving vital environmental and quality of life improvements across the country.
.Retail is a major employer. 2.7 million people currently work in the sector – 11% of the total UK workforce and this figure is predicted to rise to 3 million plus over the next 10 years – with the most significant increases in the next five years likely to be in the South West, Scotland, South East and East of England.
‚ It is a key economic driver. Retail spend in the UK is expected to grow from £228 billion in 2003 to £256 billion by 2008, an average year-on-year growth of 2.4%.
‚ Shopping centres have an indispensable social function – 100 million shoppers a month can’t be wrong!
‚ Shopping centres represent an increasingly significant investment sector – with capital values rising from £17.6 billion in 2000 to nearly £21 billion in 2003.
‚ Shopping centre development is changing the physical face of the UK. In 2003 alone, over £730 million was spent on the construction including refurbishment of shopping centres and some 890,000 sq m of new shopping centre space. There is a total of 8.2 million sq m – in the pipeline.
“In fact,” says BCSC president Andrew Ogg, “shopping centres can bring about much more than just physical change. According to our report, the latest retail rankings show how significant redevelopment can act as a real force for social and economic change within their communities– with the likes of Birmingham returning to the top three retail centres in the UK following the opening of the BullRing. Similarly, the positive impact of significant investment in new shopping centres can be seen in locations such as Liverpool, Basingstoke, Southampton, Reading, Milton Keynes, Aberdeen, Solihull and Romford.
“In recent years we have seen major investments in some of our larger shopping centres elevating them to world-class status. There can be few industries that affect so many people on such a regular basis.
“However, the report also highlights a key area for concern which we at BCSC are keen to address. Trends show increasing polarisation, with major investment pouring into relatively few leading centres. As an organisation, BCSC is now working hard to identify innovative solutions that will allow smaller towns and communities to realise the benefits of urban change through retail-led development. However that will only come about if Government bodies and planners are willing to work with private sector developers from the outset on strategic projects. Otherwise the cost of delays will discourage the involvement of developers in smaller, yet often complex urban locations.
“To that end we have reactivated the BCSC Urban Task Force committee with a specific brief to develop a blueprint for replicating the success seen in reinvigorated larger towns and cities in smaller and underserved markets, in a way that works for developers and retailers.
“As part of that we have appointed the Bartlett School of Planning to undertake research into smaller towns and how they can achieve comparative success in attracting retail-led regeneration which has already benefited larger towns and cities in the UK. The Bartlett report, to be entitled “Developing a Retail-Led Renaissance in Smaller Centres”, is due to be published in October (2004).
“This is the third time in 10 years that BCSC has produced a research report assessing the role of the shopping centre industry in the UK. It is our hope that when we next review the figures in this way, the results of our efforts to support smaller market towns and underserved locations across the UK will be clear for all to see.”
The report, The Shopping Centre Industry: Its Importance to the UK Economy, prepared by Experian Property Consultancy, has combined information from a number of contributing companies including the British Retail Consortium, CB Richard Ellis, Cyril Sweet, Donaldsons, DTZ, Experian Business Strategies, Footfall, Investment Property Databank and Property Market Analysis.
15 July 2004
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 <#_ftnref1> Founded in 1983, BCSC represents 1,400 retailers, developers, landlords, agents, architects, local authorities and others engaged in the development and stewardship of the retail environment.
 <#_ftnref2> Includes managed shopping environments including shopping centres, retail parks, shopping parks, factory outlet centres and defined retail destinations.
 <#_ftnref3> Ogg, who is Managing Director of architect practice Leslie Jones, took over the annual appointment as President of BCSC on 21 January 2004. He is the first architect to become president of BCSC in the organisation’s 20-year history.
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