WHAT’S DRIVING THE GROWTH OF RETAIL PARKS ACROSS EUROPE?
Retail parks stand out as locations of choice for many retailers and the nature of those retailers is changing. There are a number of traditional high street and shopping centre retailers who are testing the waters, trying to understand if retail parks are a viable option in their portfolios, alongside the traditional locations they have occupied in the past (e.g. H&M, Zara, Célio, C&A, CCC, Vision Express).
Relatively low costs, flexible floor layouts, better logistical structure for supplying the stores, click and collect services, the opportunity to test new formats and concepts are the key drivers of growing occupier demand reflected in the generally high occupancy levels in retail parks. One stop shopping, easy access, free parking and wide range of retailers are key factors attracting customers to this retail format. Moreover, recent trends are indicating that experience is just as important as convenience. Improved designs and style and the presence of leisure and entertainment operators are having a positive impact on footfall.
2015 saw 863,000 sq.m of new retail park space complete, increasing the total European stock by 2.4% to 37.3 million sq.m as compared to 36.4 million sq.m at the end of 2014. Development activity was highest in France, Belgium and the UK which accounted for more than 60% of all retail park space added in 2015. Activity is expected to surge ahead in 2016 and 2017 with 2.4 million sq.m currently in the pipeline and expected to be completed.