Retail insights

Second edition Nov-Dec 2023

The Golden Quarter is a time of year like no other for retail – from Black Friday to Christmas, people are looking for opportunities to spend time with family, friends and colleagues. With our destinations located across the UK – from Glasgow to Leeds, Portsmouth to London – our sales and footfall data provides a strong representation of UK retail performance. During this period, we experienced record-breaking days of sales and footfall – including a 4% uplift in sales and a 3% increase in footfall year-on-year during the quarter, indicating a positive end to 2023 for the wider industry, too. 

The Christmas starting gun was well and truly fired with Black Friday sales starting earlier in the month than last year, and guests seeking out enjoyable ways to spend their time in between hunting down the best discounts. As a result, we recorded our biggest November for sales across our places since 2018 – and we counted our fourth highest November footfall on record.

As businesses and colleagues sought unique and vibrant ways to get together and celebrate the festive season, London office footfall continued to grow, peaking in mid December*, where footfall was up 32% week-on-week. Competitive socialising remained a hot trend with experiences like F1 Arcade at One New Change driving a 28% rise in footfall during peak party season. Overall year-on-year growth in our London hospitality sales in December was up by 27%, and F&B and leisure beat last year’s sales by 8.5%.

Christmas wasn’t just a busy time for London office workers – the popularity of ice rinks and other festive experiences contributed to some record-breaking days demonstrating that experience, regardless of your location, was an important factor in everyone’s Christmas agenda. White Rose in Leeds recorded its busiest day for over a decade. The demand for unique experiences resulted in our rinks generating over 146,000 ticket sales and our ‘Believe’ Christmas grottos were visited by over 45,000 people. 

To keep up with this demand for unique experiences, we doubled the number of seasonal pop-ups at our centres from last year, with many brands returning to benefit from the high footfall during this period. Alongside new brand experiences for guests who are increasingly keen to shop from small businesses, convenience and flagship brands remained a key attraction. Brands are continuing to focus on fewer, bigger and better stores. This quarter, Uniqlo upsized at Bluewater, reporting strong performance during its opening period and helping to boost footfall of nearby brands. Brands are continuing to focus on fewer, bigger and better stores so we expect to see more results like this from big brand openings in the coming year. 

There’s another unique element of The Golden Quarter - shoppers prioritise doing good for people and the planet. At Bluewater alone, over £105,000 was gifted to charities by guests over the Christmas period. Over the same period across our portfolio, thousands of tonnes of clothing were donated by members of the public to local charities. People built sustainable retail into their shopping habits – which we saw in action with a number of our brand partners, including second hand retailer Charity Super.mkt, which we’re bringing back to Westgate in Oxford this month as a result of its continued performance and resonance with our guests. During its first Westgate pop-up, 1,011kg of clothing was prevented from going to landfill.  

Looking ahead, we expect guests to continue to be attracted to places with the best and most unique experiences, driving footfall for brands who’ll benefit from being in prime, high-footfall locations. 

Take a look at the video to see more of the numbers driving retail’s continued performance. We’ll be back with our next quarterly insights next quarter, where we’ll showcase the impact of more consumer trends and how brands and our destinations are responding.

*w/c 11 December, 2023

First edition: Jan-Sep 2023

Were you team Barbie? Or team Oppenheimer? Whatever your answer, the ‘Barbenheimer’ movie phenomenon was a driving force behind consumer activity, alongside a new flagship, a first-ever-store and a unique sustainable brand opening attracting people from near and afar to our destinations.

Our new quarterly retail data and insights, shared here for the first time today, showcases the impact of consumer activity and industry trends that we’re experiencing at our retail destinations across the UK.

The Barbie and Oppenheimer films created a huge buzz in the leisure industry, resulting in a rise in cinema sales across our destinations when the films were released in July. This had a ripple effect with positive sales reported across neighbouring food & beverage, and a boost to overall footfall across our destinations.

Mark Warne, Brand Account Director Hospitality & Leisure said: “The incredible performances of Barbie, Oppenheimer – and not forgetting Super Mario Bros - earlier in the year show that cinema continues to be the place where consumers want to experience film content at its most exciting and impactful. With more big releases scheduled for 2024, we’ll be watching how the quality of slate and constant focus by our brand partners on enhancing the cinematic experience will continue to create excitement for consumers.”

With a brand mix for people of all ages to engage with, we brought another cultural sensation to Bluewater in the summer, as YouTube group Sidemen opened their first-ever store. The hype was felt across the whole of Bluewater – with thousands of young people visiting to be part of the action. We  saw a huge spike in overall footfall at Bluewater on opening day, showcasing just how much unique experiences like this can have a halo effect that other brands can benefit from. 

Our Potential of Sustainable Retail report showed that people visiting our destinations expect a retail offer that meets the needs of local people and their community. We’ve seen this in action at White Rose in Leeds with a centre-wide rise in sales and footfall following the opening of a new flagship M&S. We’ve enhanced the value White Rose brings to the local community and economy with the new store – guests are travelling from further afield to visit, which will be further bolstered by the opening of a new train station next year. 

Polling in our report also revealed that people are more likely to visit a retail destination if sustainability is part of its make-up – including in the brand-mix. Sustainable fashion reseller Charity Super.Mkt recently joined us at Bluewater, where significant sales in the first week of opening resulted in 1.10 tonnes of clothing diverted from landfill. 

As well as doing good things for the planet, retail continues to create opportunities for local people. This quarter, we supported 21 charities across the UK with community grants through our Landsec Futures fund. We’ll be supporting many more local charities in the months to come.

Take a look at the video to take a deep dive into the numbers behind the insights. We’ll be back with our next quarterly insights from the ground in January, where we’ll showcase the impact of more consumer trends and how brands and our destinations are responding.