Media & Insights

Prime retail endures as brands and shoppers underline the value of customer service, experience and flexibility

6 October 2022

New research released today by Landsec reveals restored demand from both brands and the public for prime retail and hospitality locations across the UK.  

In partnership with Censuswide, Landsec polled more than 250 senior leaders, decision-makers and strategy chiefs across the UK retail and hospitality sectors. The responses clearly show the value placed on high-quality physical space in prime locations within the UK’s strongest retail and commercial centres. In the face of economic uncertainty, retail brands are prioritising a blend of prime locations that drive footfall, provide high-quality space, enable in-person customer service and an ability to integrate in-store and online shopping experiences. 

91% of respondents confirmed they are prioritising UK city centre locations like Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow when making investment decisions, further demonstrating the attraction of ‘prime’ across high street household names as well as independent retailers and digital native businesses. In addition, 78% of retailers said that physical store investments need to support online services such as click & collect points, product service stations and help desks, which are all becoming more important to consumers.   

The ‘flight to prime’ doesn’t just apply to business. Shoppers are increasingly demonstrating their preference for prime by placing a premium on the very best locations to spend their time and money with two-thirds of retail and hospitality brands agreeing that the current market conditions are driving a flight to prime amongst consumers.  

Brands are responding to evolving shopping habits by focusing on high performing spaces in flagship, catchment-dominant destinations; spaces that meet shoppers where they are and guarantee a combination of footfall and brand awareness that delivers sales both on and off-line. In addition, 64% of respondents agreed customer service is among the most important functions of a store as retail guests take greater care over their purchases.

As the lines between where and how people live, work and play have become increasingly blurred, there is also significant interest among retail and hospitality brands in diversifying the ways in which physical space is used; with a high percentage of respondents considering using physical stores to supplement content production, community work and co-working, or who already are (81%, 82% and 84% respectively). As retailers look to use space for alternative uses there are new opportunities for brands who chose to break down barriers for guests. 

Bruce Findlay, Managing Director of Retail at Landsec, says: 
“Today’s research paints a resilient picture for retail and hospitality. As the country continues to face uncertainty, ‘prime’ destinations have an important role to play in delivering much needed services and relief for shoppers. While online retail is here to stay, physical stores remain front and centre for product guidance and expertise, customer services and brand awareness.  

“There’s also a reality that the way consumers live their lives has changed, and retail is adapting to meet new needs and wants. A ‘mixed use’ approach will be increasingly important when it comes to driving footfall, dwell time and ultimately, the value consumers place on their experience.”

Nik Porter, Head of Retail Brand Account Management, Landsec, says: 
“As an industry we've been talking about retail’s 'flight to prime' for years and we’ve already experienced this in the way brands choose space across our portfolio, what’s exciting about today’s research is that we’re seeing this mirrored in our guests’ behaviour – as they prioritise the best locations for them to spend their valuable spare time at, and their hard-earned money.

“That presents an opportunity for retailers and Landlords as we think of meaningful ways to rise to that challenge and deliver innovative experiences and services that can help make life that little bit better for our guests.”