As physical retail spend comes under increasing threat from online channels, ‘supermalls’ are set to outperform the total offline market over the next five years, as their destination appeal will ensure that growth is resilient, according to new research. 

A report by analytics firm GlobalData, ‘UK Supermalls 2018 – 2023reveals that supermalls retail spend will rise seven percent out to 2023 as they divert spend away from lacklustre and often neglected town centres. Supermalls are able to offer the best offline alternative to online shopping in terms of product and retailer range, which will bolster the growth of the location as consumers become accustomed to a vast choice.

Emily Salter, Retail Analyst for GlobalData, said: “Clothing and footwear drives the bulk of spend at supermalls, accounting for 59.1 percent in 2018, and retailer investment will ensure this continues as a number of players open and refurbish stores in supermalls, such as Primark’s recent opening in Bluewater.

“Primark is the most visited clothing retailer in supermalls – 30.2 percent of supermall visitors browsed a store – as its discount credentials appeal to a wide range of shoppers, and it continues to expand its presence in such locations, becoming a new type of anchor retailer.”

The wide range of retailers, leisure, and food services drives the destination appeal of supermalls and means that such locations will be better protected from store closures than town centres as major players including Arcadia, Debenhams, and Marks & Spencer look to close numerous branches in the next few years.

Salter added: “Supermalls hold the most appeal for younger consumers, as more 16-24 year olds have visited them in the past 12 months than any other age group. The retailer selection is well suited to young shoppers, as supermalls are often dominated by mass market clothing and footwear retailers, such as H&M and Zara.

“To remain appealing to this demographic, it is essential that the retail and leisure offer is frequently refreshed with new and exciting brands. Pop-up shops and flexible food service options, like street food style eateries, can be valuable mechanisms to offer continual variety and maintain appeal as a social destination.”

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