Opinion

PERSONAL COMMENTARIES OF PLACEMAKING EXPERTS

The prospect of getting a slice of UK retail is not without its risks, regardless of whether the bottom of the market has been hit in terms of shopping center investment. For many first-time buyers in this asset class, the time to focus on getting the basics right has come.

Retail real estate is facing tough times as we close in on the prospect of a long, cold winter. Amidst the impending energy and economic crisis and an escalating threat resulting from a war in Europe, for many, the fear is here. Investor insecurity is high, and property owners are wary of fuel and finances running into scarce supply. However, as we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, where there is a challenge, there is also an opportunity.

As Festival Place is due to turn 20 later this year, now seems to be an opportune moment to reflect upon what defines it as a shopping center, a leisure destination, and a community amenity. Neil Churchill, Center Director of Festival Place, one of the UK’s Top 22 shopping centers, shares his view on the importance of community investment.

In times of unpredictability, marketing spending is usually the first candidate for budget cuts. Marketing management in the commercial real estate sector must be highly focussed on the issues that are fundamental to the business of property owners which directly contributes to increasing their value.

Racing after numbers, reading year-end reports, statistics and percentages: this chase is not but characterized by a kind of tunnel view, which limits the possibilities of growth. If you want to adapt, you need to consider every aspect of your target audience to keep on top of the changes in consumer behavior. Footfall is reflecting your detailed expertise, not producing it. What businesses need is direct connection to their customers: establish a relationship, explore needs and demands, and use the right tools to aid this pursuit.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the message to the UK has been to shop local and support your community during the incredibly difficult period that we all faced. Even as town and city centers began to open up again, independent retailers have maintained their position in the spotlight of the retail industry, be it bricks and mortar or online.

A thoughtful brand strategy is the essential basis of any marketing effort. The brand, the expectation raised, is what remains after all of the marketing has swept through the room. It is what sticks in your customers’ minds. It is what makes them loyal. It is what makes them think you are worth a visit.

“Seville Fashion Outlet in Spain will enjoy an extension of 2,680 sq m which will create space for 17 major brands to be added to the existing roster of more than 70 stores.”

“In some cases, schemes are trading at the same or even higher sales densities than previous years and, in many cases, better than pre-pandemic, 2019 levels.”

“We are focusing on our customer journey under the theme of the Italian Dolce Vita – to bring out the best of Italy to our international visitors, and the best of the world to Italy, through fashion, hospitality, culinary experiences, art and design.”

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