Wednesday 21 March 2018

Local shops still preferred over centres and internet

Florence Stanley: retail fears 'generally exaggerated'
Florence Stanley: retail fears 'generally exaggerated'

Donal Buckley

neighbourhood and town centre shops score ahead of most other types as well as the internet with Europeans when it comes to buying clothes.

Despite the growth of online retailing, consumers do not intend to radically change their shopping habits in the coming years.

Indeed, the majority of European shoppers have yet to fully embrace new technology and digital tools.

These are among the findings of a survey which property consultants CBRE conducted recently among more than 10,000 shoppers across 10 European countries ranging from Britain to Russia and Sweden to Italy.

Florence Stanley, head of retail and deputy MD of CBRE Ireland, said: "Although Irish consumers were not surveyed as part of this study, it is reasonable to assume that the trends are similar at a local level.

"Fears about traditional retail being overcome by online retailing are generally exaggerated."

Two-thirds of European consumers said that the price of goods, cleanliness, security and convenient access were the most important factors when choosing where to shop.

Entertainment and leisure were also deemed important by a third of those surveyed and by more than half of the younger age group.

Town centres and the high street continue to be the preferred option for European consumers, despite competition from online and out-of-town shopping.

As a result, the pace of change of retail fundamentals is relatively slow, with the physical store continuing to play a key role in the new, multi-channel world.

The survey shows that when it comes to clothes, the consumers on average went to town centre shops or town centre supermarkets 37 times a year and local or neighbourhood shops 18 times a year. Local shops and town centres are visited most frequently for clothing shopping – at least once a month on average. For out-of-town shopping centres, the average visit frequency is every six weeks.

A majority 78pc of Europeans choose to shop for fashion goods in town centres, rising to 90pc among those living in Western Europe.

The range of retailers and, in particular, the size of their stores (and consequent ability to carry a full range of goods) were high up the list of consumers' priorities.

Only a little over half (54pc) of Europeans use a car when visiting town centres, and 76pc do so for out-of-town centres.

Less than one-third (30pc) of journeys to local shops are also taken by car.


Nevertheless, CBRE advises that parking provision is important for customer satisfaction and footfall whether in or out-of town.

Designed to discover how and where consumers shop, the report is entitled 'How We Shop: Inside the Minds of Europe's Consumers'.

The agents also point out that online retailing complements in-store retailing.

When buying online, 64pc of consumers prefer home delivery, but 85pc said it was important to have access to a physical store to view/touch clothes before buying online.

The survey said: "Digital tools have yet to fully take hold. For example, fewer than one-third of consumers in Europe have ever compared prices on their mobiles in-store or used QR codes to access websites.

"However, usage will increase in the future given the higher take-up today among 16- to 34-year-olds."

Ms Stanley added: "While many retailers are adapting to technological advances, consumers across Europe are telling us that they do not intend to radically change their shopping habits in the immediate future.

"Convenience is still the consumer's watchword. People like to shop locally, and they want their shopping destinations to be easily accessible by car and free to park in.

"Out-of-town centres usually offer free parking, but town centre shopping facilities normally charge, putting themselves at a distinct disadvantage.

"Our advice to town centre managers, shopping centres and retail investors is to listen to what consumers want, concentrate on getting the basics right, and this will give you the best chance of success."

Irish Independent

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