The UK town-centre retail market is predicted to rise by 0.2 per cent in 2018 and will continue to grow through to 2022, according to analytics company GlobalData.
The Report, UK Town Centres 2017-2022, revealed that shoppers are looking to more attractive physical retail locations and the online channel to satisfy rising expectations for experience, product choice and convenience.
However, the town-centre retail market is expected to underperform compared with the overall growth of total physical retail sales in the UK over the next five years, which will be driven by retail parks and super-malls.
Occupied retail space in UK town centres is forecast to decline by 0.8 per cent in 2018 as retailers opt to close underperforming stores in high-street locations where footfall has weakened, and instead focus investment on destination stores in more attractive locations.
Charlotte Pearce, retail analyst at GlobalData, said: “Town centres are losing their appeal as the online channel is increasingly offering shoppers greater convenience and supermalls like Westfield Stratford are providing a superior all-round experience for consumers looking to shop, dine and socialise in one place.
“With retailers investing in flagship stores in these key locations, town-centre stores are often neglected, particularly by retailers with a large number of stores. As these regional stores become less attractive over time, it is inevitable that spend will shift to more attractive channels that offer a greater experience for shoppers.
“While rising costs are becoming increasingly problematic for retailers, investment in smaller town-centre stores is needed in order for these locations to remain an attractive destination for shoppers. Despite waning appeal, town centres are still a key retail location, accounting for more than a third of total retail spend in the UK in 2017.”