Popularity of designer and discount outlets challenges online growth, says GlobalData

It is not just the online retail channel that is growing, as consumer demand for premium brands at reduced prices means that the rise in spend at outlet locations will rival that of online-commerce. Non-food online spend is forecast to grow by 6.4% in 2019, and while physical retail will decline by 0.5%, spend at outlets is set to grow by 4.8%, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The company’s latest report, ‘UK Outlet Locations 2019-2024’ reveals that spend at outlet locations is set to rise by £637m to reach £4.1bn in 2024 due to the appeal of discounted premium and luxury brands as the top 15 locations drive the market.

Emily Salter, Retail Analyst at GlobalData commented: “Outlets will outperform other locations as town centres struggle with falling footfall and retailers shuttering stores, and many supermall developments are being put on hold. As well as several new outlet developments in the pipeline, landlords are investing in existing outlets to improve retail propositions and create more of a destination by focusing on leisure and food service.”

Ashford Designer Outlet revealed its £90m redevelopment last week, including new brands and leisure facilities, boosting its performance and making it a more attractive shopping location to rival Bluewater.

Salter continued: “Clothing and footwear dominates spending in outlets and is forecast to account for 65% of the market in 2019. This share will fall only slightly to 2024, but the retailers present will change during this time, moving away from traditional outlet retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Gap and Next, and towards younger and more relevant brands such as Dr Martens and Nike.”

An increase in the range of retailers will allow outlets to better compete with the online channel and supermalls, as well as attract a wider shopper base. The presence of more unique retailers will create greater exclusivity for individual outlets and drive footfall. One way to create this exclusivity is for outlets to host pop-ups stores, as Hush and Charlotte Tilbury have done, which will help increase visit frequency.

Salter adds: “Leisure is also becoming a bigger focus for outlet owners, as locations have previously often lacked anything more than a fast food restaurant and coffee shop or two. Following the addition of a greater variety of leisure and food service options in supermalls, consumer expectations surrounding the availability of these facilities in shopping locations has risen, so outlets are having to play catch up and introduce desirable options.”

Information based on GlobalData’s report: ‘UK Outlet Locations 2019-2024’

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