“Where there are People there is Retail”

“Where there are people there is retail” however every retail location needs a commercial strategy and an inspirational delivery.

Customer traffic is now dictating the location of retail. Freedom to travel and freedom to choose between online and physical shopping, between town and out-of-town, between the familiar and the unusual is changing the landscape of where people spend their money.



The retail location equation now includes not only town centres & high streets, retail parks and shopping centres but leisure destinations, transit centres from airports to railway and service stations, colleges and universities with the populations of small towns through to museums, theatres and wherever people spend their time and ultimately their money.

The repercussions for both traditional shopping locations and potential now ones are profound but full of opportunities. The one common underlying requirement is that locations need to work as one, for the real competition is no longer between individual retailers but between destinations themselves. We enter the fight for footfall.

Retail destinations need to act with one mind-set and a strategy to deliver the correct number of shops, the correct mix of shops, and shops that sell the right thing to the target customer. Having the most shops no longer means being the best or most successful location. The key is the quality of course, but also a focused positioning of shops for the correct customer group.

Destinations, apart from the largest towns and cities, should no longer try to be everything to everyone, but to be the best for their target customer group. Even large destinations with a variety of target customers need to plan their store geography to create different areas or quarters for each customer group combining not just retail but eating, leisure and events.

For new retail destinations or shopping centres, airports and leisure parks for example, with a single owner, the task of creating a logical and attractive retail landscape is about delivering a clear strategy. For traditional and multi-owned destinations such as town centres the role of single ownership must be grasped by authorities, BIDS and community groups using persuasion and procurement, including buying property and even compulsory purchasing property from landlords who stand in the way of town centre strategies that not only offer salvation for retail but for the fabric and people of the community itself.

Collaboration is key for every situation. Collages & Universities should work with student unions and local retailers, leisure parks and entertainment centres must coordinate concessions and directly owned stores, airports and service stations work with a variety of retailers, all to create and deliver a single attractive shopping experience.

From this single viewpoint all other considerations can be coordinated and delivered with a single brand proposition, running a variety of retailers in the same way as a department store would manage its concessions – maintaining balance, delivering services and combining retail categories and a food offer.

For maximum efficiency and commercial performance the overall proposition must ultimately be managed down to product category level. Across its parts any retail location must be selling correctly for its chosen customer group…

  • the correct product categories, the correct mix of fashion, food, home and sector specialists
  • the correct type of retailer from multiples to independents
  • the correct positioning of product from traditional to trendy
  • the correct taste from classic to gaudy, beige to bling
  • the correct price architecture and entry prices

With everything wrapped up in a dynamic series of events and promotions again all focused on the interests and taste of the target customer.

There is of course no reason why a retail offer for a student population – low price, essentials, convenient and informal – should be the same as for a leisure destination – aspirational, impulse, gift and higher prices, and by the same token there is no reason why a traditional town should be competing with the same proposition as a neighbouring town or out-of-town centre.

And there is no reason why there should be so many shops in a traditional town centre, just the correct amount to satisfy the residents and visitor numbers where the conversion of retail buildings to housing is part of a viable process to achieving the correct balance of footfall and retail supply.

Behind this complexity is a simple statement for the retail success of any destination.

The right number and the right mix of shops with each one delivered and operating to the very highest standards.

Easier said than done, and that’s where history doesn’t change. The fundamentals of what makes a good retailer are as important today as they have ever been.

Do you have the correct strategy for your retail destination?

Are your shops as good as they should be?


“The right shops & the best shops”

VM-unleashed has developed 2 tried & tested deliverables to make any retail destination offer relevant,  competitive and commercially successful.

Venue Mapping ensures that any retail location has the right critical mass and mix of shops, cafes and leisure outlets, the correct market positioning and a hit-list of appropriate retailers.

Vendor management works with councils, BIDs, universities, centres and individual retailers to introduce best practice retail processes and awareness, and advise on the introduction of tools across a retail community such as façade restoration, visual merchandising, loyalty programmes and online fulfilment.

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