Forget 9-5; the retail market has a new peak time, and it’s the evening.
Over the past 5 or 6 years, we’ve seen a shift in footfall patterns towards the end of the day. With the economy consistently improving and consumers enjoying greater disposable income, many people are choosing to combine retail with leisure and ‘make an evening’ of going shopping – perhaps using it as an excuse for a meal out. This is what we call the Night Time Economy (NTE).
Shopping centres and retail parks have been quickest to spot this opportunity, and adapt their offering to accommodate emerging retail traffic patterns. This is partly for survival – the ‘everything under one roof’ concept is less of a selling point now that consumers can buy from pretty much any retailer online – and partly because a change in offering can significantly increase average spend.
Today, it’s not uncommon to see cinemas, ten pin bowling alleys, restaurants and bars alongside major retail stores, and food and beverage spend among shoppers is on the up as a result.
The birth of the Night Time Economy is indicative of two changing focuses within the retail industry. Firstly, there’s now a greater emphasis on the customer experience. It’s not just stores that want to amaze and excite their customers; retail parks and shopping centres want to offer visitors greater value than a huge Next or a big box Tesco.
Secondly, convenience has become king for the consumer. In groceries, there’s been a distinct shift towards shopping ‘little and often’, while in clothing and apparel the growth of click-and-collect has enabled time-strapped shoppers to fit the retail journey into neat windows of opportunity.
The rise of the Night Time Economy supports this, as not only does it allow consumers to kill two birds with one stone – shopping and eating, for example – it means they can get ‘the necessary tasks’ over with and spend time doing something they find relaxing. Those anchor tenants still remain, but the fact that visitors can park for free and grab some dinner while they’re there creates a more rounded experience.
And the growing number of shopping centres and retail parks embracing the Night Time Economy is impacting retailers, as consumers are beginning to expect High Street stores to open later at night. In fact, the hospitality industry is encouraging this trend further – Starbucks recently began experimenting with cheese and wine evenings, tailoring its offering for an evening audience.
The exact NTE opportunities open to retail business will depend on a number of factors – including location and target audience – that can only be determined through in-depth customer intelligence. However, it’s clear that 9-5 trading hours are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, and for businesses that can get their operations right to balance cost and profit, there’s a huge revenue growth potential.
Lyanne Earls is a Global Consultant at FootFall, a market-leading provider of retail intelligence solutions.