Five things to do with the empty retail space

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Until now, 2018 has been a tough year on the High Street. Toys R Us and Maplin have collapsed, while the New Look and Mothercare have announced closures, as Jamie’s italian, burger chain Byron and Prezzo.

They are the latest victims of the increase in online shopping and increased overheads. The passage to the line and more frequent purchases of food also means some retailers will have store more space than they need.

So what happens to the space to be released?1. Sports halls

The Gym Group

Talk to anyone in retail today, and they will tell you that the “experiments” are essential – an effective way for bricks and mortar retailers to differentiate themselves from online.

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail for the Economy, says the experiences about “what Amazon can’t do it”.

Retailers need to create an interesting experience as “the readers of the attendance, and better retention and creates an environment that can’t be replicated online,” he adds. Gyms are a case in point and they have been busy snapping up empty retail space.

Low-cost operator The Gym Group has opened in part of a former BHS in Walthamstow, north London. It is also the rental of excess space in sainsbury’s in-store at Murrayfield in Edinburgh.

Founder John Treharne said: “We have always converted to a retail space -it just happens to be available today.” 2. A mini-golf and climbing walls

And this is not only the gyms to get in on the act. “The competition of socialization” is a big thing these days, says Colin Flinn, regional director of the shopping centre owner intu, whose properties include the shores of the Lake and the Trafford Centre in Manchester.

Ping-pong bars, trampoline parks, social, darts, indoor swimming pool, golf, climbing walls, escape rooms and virtual reality games are growing in popularity and are in search of suitable space.


Which may be empty space in the stores. For example, a mini-golf operator Swingers moved into the first floor of the former BHS flagship store on London’s Oxford Street.

Co-founder Matt Grech-Smith said that snapping up the site was a “no-brainer”, because it is “literally a stone’s throw from the very high traffic of Oxford Circus. Sites in a place as the first as this do not come very often – especially sites of this great.”

But the great and the success of the shopping malls are also attracting activities. “A major regional [shopping] centres to become “stations,” says intu Mr. Flinn. “Customers can either pop in to do a quick shop or spend a full day with the family.” 3. Prosecco and pastry

An important point for retailers and shopping centres is to turn themselves into “destinations” – persuading people to visit and stay longer, rather than simply to order things online.

Next to the revamped store Manchester Arndale Centre includes a prosecco, a bar, a hairdressing salon, a children’s activity centre and, in summer, a car dealership. It is also in talks with the spa operator.

The spokesman said that the idea is to “give people a good reason to come to the shop – the people are not browsing as much as they were before. A lot of things under the same roof is much more attractive to consumers.”

Debenhams has also gone down this road. Boss Sergio Bucher said, the main focus of his strategy, of leisure and of “social shopping”.

It’s stepped up its food offering, and the likes of Patisserie Valerie and Nandos are now in some stores.

It has also teamed up with gym operator in Sweat, with the first gym due to open later this year, and has taken an interest in the beauty business Blow Ltd, which has opened salons in the store.

“When people go shopping with friends, they tend to spend more,” says a Debenhams spokesman. “The Destination is really important for all the department store operators.”

John Lewis Partnership

Recently, the department store group John Lewis floor apartment fully furnished in three of its stores. Customers have been able to stay for the night and dinner, so that everything in the flat was for sale.

The department store group, said customers are increasingly using its stores as a “leisure destination” and as a convenient place to click-and-collect.

“This means that our strategy in stores focuses a lot more on their experiences and to give people a reason to come visit us,” said a spokesman.4. Houses and apartments

In some cases, there may be no other choice than to admit the vacuum of space is not going to work for the sale at retail, or recreation, or in a city centre or a worn out shopping center. This is when it is time to turn in the residential real estate.

“It is logical, because we have too many shops and a lack of housing.” said Richard Lim of Retail Economic .

The British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech, agrees: “We believe that there is a huge possibility of the empty retail outlets.

“We have a huge shortage of residential stock, and we know that people increasingly want to live in the cities and towns.”5. The discount and convenience

Of course, some retailers are still expanding and looking for a new space. Leading the charge are discounters Aldi and Lidl, whose popularity is surging.

Tony Kershaw

The Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) estimates that by 2022, one in every £7 spent on groceries will go to the discounters, the total amount of the value of their sales jumped nearly 50% between 2017 and 2022 to around £30 billion eur.

Lidl has more than 700 stores in the UK and plans to open 50 years this year only, while Aldi has more than 750 stores and will be open from 70 this year.

The convenience stores run by big supermarket chains are also springing up in many neighborhood places as more and more people are abandoning the weekly shop and leave the decisions about a evening meal at the last minute.

As a result, the IGD expects convenience store sales to increase by nearly 18% to approximately £47bn in 2022.