Thursday 22 February 2018

Dublin's Grafton Street ranks 11th in Europe for retail footfall - but doesn't make luxury list

Dublin’s Grafton Street carries 8,802 pedestrians per hour, which is just 5pc behind London’s Regent Street
Dublin’s Grafton Street carries 8,802 pedestrians per hour, which is just 5pc behind London’s Regent Street

Donal Buckley

Dublin's Grafton Street is ranked 11th of the top 30 European shopping streets in terms of mass-market footfall.

However, Dublin fails to make it into the top 20 European luxury high streets. London has four streets in the luxury group: Regent, New and Old Bond Street as well as South Molton, while Paris, Rome  and Copenhagen have two streets each in the top 20  luxury group.

These are among the findings in a pan-European footfall analysis of which streets attract the highest pedestrian traffic, which has just been published by BNP Paribas Real Estate.

In the top 30 mass market, London leads the way with a record value of 13,560 pedestrians per hour in Oxford Street. Madrid's Calle de Preciados is ranked third and Paris's Champs-Élysées is fifth.

"Out of 98 streets surveyed in a total of 23 cities, Ireland scores very favourably, featuring twice in the top 20 busiest streets in Europe as measured by footfall per hour," says BNP's Eoin Feeney.

Grafton Street carries 8,802 pedestrians per hour, which is only 5pc behind Regent Street in London.

"Henry Street carries 8,505 per hour, which puts both it and Grafton Street ahead of many well-known streets including Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, Via del Corso in Rome and Kalverstraat in Amsterdam," he adds.

The report also points out that the top slots are not confined to capital cities, and regional cities also feature strongly, with Munich second, Frankfurt fourth and Barcelona sixth and seventh.

As regards luxury high streets, its top-five figures are recorded by France, Spain, the UK and, a step behind, Denmark. These streets are "iconic" walkway precincts which enjoy a high degree of tourist activity. However, it says that genuine luxury prime streets are dominated by Italy, with Rome's Via Condotti.

Dublin is grouped with cities where local economic and cultural character have a significant impact on footfall. In this group, tourism also stands out as a key driver of footfall, "all the more so, as counting was undertaken in June, when tourism enters the peak periods and sunshine hours are at a maximum in Scandinavia".

The report describes the 515 metre-long pedestrianised Grafton Street as the most sought-after location for Irish retailers.

"The street is anchored by Brown Thomas, a place where most upmarket brands have concessions, since, unlike many other capital cities, Dublin has no defined 'luxury' retail pitch. Reconfiguration of smaller units over recent years allowed for international and domestic retailers seeking space to come into Dublin," the report says.

Read more: 'A dream come true' - Dublin's most iconic café Bewley's Grafton Street reopens its doors

The impact of this strategy was positive, with additions like & Other Stories, Hugo Boss, Urban Decay, Space NK, Molton Brown and Victoria's Secret.

Henry Street and Mary Street attract 8,505 pedestrians per hour, which is considered a strong footfall over the combined 575 metre thoroughfare. "Units here are fully occupied, with a considerable number of UK high-street operators as well as domestic and international ones."

"Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Dunnes specialty stores are key landmarks on the scene, as is the Ilac Centre, which has recently seen substantial refurbishment. Combined with a wide range of clothing and footwear retailers (Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Next, Zara, River Island, H&M), the offering makes the axis a very popular shopping destination. It is home to Ireland's busiest flagship store, Penneys, which also serves as the headquarters of the global retailer Primark.

Footfall in downtown Dublin is likely to increase, as the Luas extensions are almost complete; given the proximity of Grafton and Henry/Mary Streets to stops, these locations will undoubtedly gain.

"Where cities present a single retail core, focused on two to three prime streets, highest numbers are achieved on these streets such as in Munich, Dublin, the Scandinavian cities, Prague and Zürich.

"Inversely, due to their large catchment areas, London, Berlin and Paris do not have a single core but rather have multiple clusters; hence they achieve a record footfall on their two iconic and most visible streets, while more "modest" traffic - nonetheless good performances for retailers - is achieved for the remaining clusters."

Meanwhile, Grafton and Henry Streets look well-positioned to cater for some of the new trends in retailing and especially the trend for stores to become showrooms and brand ambassadors.

According to another report entitled The Future of Retail 2030, published by CBRE, physical stores of the future will focus on delivering brand experiences.

"Shopping has become an immersive, sensory brand engagement because, despite the speed and ease of access to online merchandise, the shopper in 2030 still has the desire to visit a physical store," says CBRE's report.

Consequently, it expects more online retailers to follow the example of Amazon and become key owners of physical- store real estate.

The brand ambassador approach is reflected in pop-up shops, also known as guerrilla stores. For instance, this 'Black Friday', Amazon will open a guerrilla store in central London, where it will also offer shoppers tutorials from social media influencers Lottie Tomlinson and Gizzi Erskine.

The two Dublin streets also look set to benefit from yet another trend identified by CBRE: reduced ownership of cars.

"The first step on the journey to autonomous vehicles is releasing ourselves from the shackles of the ownership cycle. (In 2030, it expects personal car) ownership to be the exception rather than the norm."

So one can only conclude that with the Green Luas connecting up Grafton and Henry Streets and with the Red Line connecting Connolly and Heuston railway stations, shoppers won't need cars to enjoy the experiences on offer on both streets.

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