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credit: Pragma Consulting
credit: Pragma Consulting

Creating Unique Experiences To Boost Footfall

Many retail locations around the world continue to struggle to achieve footfall levels anything close to pre-pandemic levels. In London, for example, major tourist and worker locations, such as King’s Cross and Covent Garden, saw visitor numbers decrease 40-60% in 2023 relative to 2019 volumes, according to mobile tracking data, shares Pragma Consulting in its latest analysis.

In response to this, malls, high streets and brands have been creating unique experiences through culture and experiential innovations to drive footfall:

Eccleston Yards

Diversification of an asset’s offer can be achieved in various ways: existing courtyards or empty public realm spaces can be utilised to hold a multitude of events, from food trucks to screenings of major sporting events, such as the Wimbledon tennis screening at Eccleston Yards in Belgravia, which features a bar with other nearby eateries to choose from. The next phase of development is to reshape the environment through enhancing the public realm, with green spaces and opportunities for dwell, or pedestrianising streets.

credit: Eccleston Yards

Fleet Street Quarter

Fleet Street Quarter is looking to define themselves as a key destination within London and part of this strategy includes enhancements to the public realm. The goal is to stop the bleed off from workers leaving to a nearby area, as well as attracting both international and domestic tourists. These changes will enhance the walkways of the main thoroughfare streets, which currently feel congested and polluted with the volume of traffic. Wider footpaths and biophilic implements will improve flow but also generate dwell, creating a more serene and enjoyable environment that will very positively impact the commercial that’s in proximity.

credit: Gensler

Outernet London

Outernet London’s first digital experience, located at The Now building on Tottenham Court Road, opened to the public for free in 2022. The experience is an audio-visual immersive experience across 23,000 square feet of screens, attracting an annual average of 6.3 million visitors, making it London’s most visited attraction. The experience is unique and taps into the ushering in of a highly digitised world, bringing in droves of visitors in what is a relatively small space, likely driving dwell and spend for the surrounding commercial provision.

credit: Outernet London

REI flagship store

Brands can also play on their own culture to create unique experiences in unique spaces. The REI flagship store in Seattle is one that we often use in our benchmarks due to its ability to cater specifically to its core audience of functional, adventurous, and outdoorsy individuals. The store itself uses a lot of rugged and natural materials to represent the Northwest, with other built in elements of sustainability, such as daylighting and stormwater harvesting. The indoor climbing wall, biking and hiking trails create a truly immersive experience for visitors to test products in action.

credit: REI

BOSS House Villa

Hugo Boss combines the luxury lifestyle associated with the brand with the tropical oasis that is associated with Bali. The six-bedroom villa is available to rent from mid-June till the end of August, allowing patrons to get a fully immersive Hugo Boss experience, with branding, products and amenities permeating through every inch of the villa. They have concurrently created a virtual version of the villa, where all can experience the villa and browse and purchase BOSS products, as well as play a hidden game to unlock an exclusive discount.

credit: Hugo Boss Group

Footfall is the ultimate driver in occupier interest, so to create footfall is to generate that interest. Strong “destination” occupiers can further generate footfall, inciting a positive cycle of growth to an area. Whether it is through harnessing their own culture, the culture they represent or target, or the culture of their environment, this is done to attract footfall of their target audience, be it residents, local workers, international or domestic tourists or more.

The flexibility and availability of products online means that the customer experience is everything when it comes to in-person engagement. Meaningful and impactful experiences enhance the consumer experience, creating positive sentiment which typically translates to spend either now or in the future.


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