“Do shopping centres even have a future?” I hear this question again and again: from investors, retailers, planners and consumers. “Of course shopping centres have a future” is my answer – of this I am absolutely convinced. Even the most successful online retailers are now looking for desirable shop locations and the best shops also offer their products online. “Multi-channelling” has become a matter of course. Even if it is easy to choose textiles, furniture and shoes from the comfort of your living room sofa, there are a lot of consumers for whom shopping has become a leisure activity. Despite the rise of online shopping, a good culinary offer and a huge range of shops in a pleasant atmosphere will always be in demand.
“Competition breathes life into the business”. Today, there are still many managers who orientate themselves towards their competitors and improve by analysing them. I, however, have come to another conclusion : “cooperation breathes life into the business”. Outlet Centres work according to exactly this principle. Shop partners achieve together what they could never have achieved alone: broad advertising campaigns, punchy marketing activities and a high customer frequency. In such a community, individual brands and business can keep up with the “giants”.
I have been asked whether I would like to take over the management of shopping streets in inner city areas. Some say that city centres are up and coming – others say that they are dying out because consumers prefer to do their shopping online or in shopping centres.
Of course, there is no doubt that well-structured city centres are very desirable and great places to spend time. Almost every large city has traditional shopping streets with a good shop mix and high customer frequency. However, there are also cities and towns where the shop owners have gone and now seem lifeless.
Reviving such inner city areas is almost as big a challenge as re-positioning Outlet Centres. This, even though retail locations in inner city areas work according to the same principles as Outlet Centres: you need clear positioning and market strategy, a good mix of brands, a high customer frequency, desirable businesses, easy access and – above all – sufficient parking spaces. It requires a lot of fine tuning to hit on the right mix and the right strategy. To do this, you need a manager in the driving seat who is supported by a powerful team, but who can ultimately make decisions independently.
There are barely any shopping streets which fulfil these conditions.
Because it is a public area, it is only natural that a lot of people want to have their say and participate in the decision. This can still lead to pleasing results. As for me, I am of the opinion that “too many cooks spoil the broth.” or too many investors with self-interest do not create the right balance for the good of the town and community, I prefer to concentrate on the area where I am most at home – Outlet Centres.