London’s Retail: exploring what works
London’s Retail: exploring what works looks at what lessons can be learned from London’s new and established retail districts. The retail landscape is evolving fast to meet new demands. We ask, how can the built environment sector adapt to ensure a bright future for retail in London?
This research profiles a selection of London’s most innovative responses within the sector, showcasing findings across four key themes – place, flexibility, leadership and the culture of retail.
EXCERPT FROM THE INTRODUCTION
With the golden era of British retail in faint memory, the retail sector continues to resiliently and creatively diversify its models to define the future of retail in London. As online consumption has supplanted ‘big box’ retail culture, London has faced an oversaturation of previously sought-after retail space, leading to an increase in vacancy rates and some of the
most well-known high street names going into administration. While the rise of online shopping is demonstrative of consumers’ demand for convenience, unlimited choice, and optimal value, the shift to online is only one challenge facing the sector.
In a new age of conscious consumerism, shoppers are increasingly factoring ethical stances and sustainability into their purchasing decisions, ushering in the demand for a more circular economy. Larger retailers operating out of physical stores have also been hit by sharp spikes in business rates, particularly in the West End, where some have seen their liability
double since the implementation of a business rates bill, part of the Government’s 2018 Autumn Budget. In response to the urgent pressure that has been building on the industry since the 2008 financial crash, the 2011 Portas Review notably galvanised central government support for the UK’s struggling high streets.
More recently, the government released The High Street Report alongside a Future High Street Fund to support local town centres in England. Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) such as the New West End Company have helped in concentrating funds to help businesses and retailers thrive, straddling the public and private sector. And yet, the number of international retailers opening debut stores in the capital was up 27% last year according to Savills research, and vacancy remains below the national average. While footfall paints a mixed picture across the key shopping streets in the West End — Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street — overall the district experienced an increase of 1.7% in the first quarter of 2019 according to the New West End Company. This research explores the responsive innovations currently being undertaken at the intersection of the built environment and retail sectors: from London’s world-famous West End shopping streets, town centre retail districts, local high streets and major transport hubs.
Part 1: Review
Part 2: Industry insight
Part 3: Viewpoints
Pop Brixton and Peckham Lvels
Retail in transport hubs
Coal Drops Yard
Released July 2019
Digital publication only