Martin Breeden, Development Director at intu. Image: intu
Opinion

Retailing at your leisure

We know that as consumer habits in the UK and beyond evolve, our customers no longer see leisure, shopping and dining as completely distinct activities. And they’ll also not think twice about switching back and forth between online and offline channels to explore, share ideas or buy.

By Martin Breeden

We know that as consumer habits in the UK and beyond evolve, our customers no longer see leisure, shopping and dining as completely distinct activities. And they’ll also not think twice about switching back and forth between online and offline channels to explore, share ideas or buy.

Research we carried out among 2,000 British shoppers really lifted the lid on how the UK spends its leisure time and highlighted the importance we all attach to a human and physical experience. For most people—around seven out of ten of those who took part in our study—quality leisure time is about sharing time with friends and family.

But the research also showed how often we want to be able to step between different retail and leisure activities for a seamless overall experience as well as the extent to which we use digital technology alongside these offline activities.

We see this in the behaviour of our 35 million customers a year, with the modern shopping center now used in a range of ways as customers pop in for a coffee or lunch break convenience purchase, take part in a day out with friends and family or visit us to try on items they’ve been researching online.

Bringing together these different needs, wants and preferences under one roof means we’re always thinking carefully about the composition of our centers. And by creating more immersive and expansive destinations, we’re able to cater for the increasing number of shopping center visits that are happening for a widening array of reasons, with today’s best shopping centers evolving into complete leisure destinations.

Leisure is certainly playing an increasingly important role within each of our shopping centers and our ongoing development pipeline. For example, at intu Trafford Centre we play host to a Legoland Discovery Centre and Sealife, we will introduce Nickelodeon’s first UK shopping centre attraction to intu Lakeside as part of the centre’s innovative new leisure extension and we are developing a large mixed-use resort at intu Costa Del Sol in Malaga, Spain.

And this is in addition to the compelling events we run across our centers, all year round. Importantly, this is about creating locations that are not just about retail or leisure exclusively, but where people can come and enjoy a big day out.

So at intu Costa Del Sol, we‘ll have a mini-theme park, a surf lake, artificial ski slopes, a gourmet market, flagship stores and lots of food and beverage all in one location.

This comes down to one of our missions as a shopping center landlord which is to win the Saturday morning breakfast table discussion as families ask “what are we going to do today?” and then to ensure that their expectations for a great day out at one of our centers are met when they arrive.

Alongside changing consumer habits and expectations, leisure and retail is coming together across our centers to deliver our customers with what they’re looking for, which is always more than simply shopping.

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