December 2011 Archives
My attention was drawn earlier this week to an application by Stainsby Grange to construct a
new retail scheme in Keighley. The development will be called 'Worth Valley Shopping Centre', and already has its own website, detailing which brands the company are hoping to entice to the scheme. The developers have indicated that this development is designed to complete Keighley's 'natural retail loop', illoustrated on the right.
This loop already contains two major retail schemes: The Cavendish Retail Park and The Airedale Centre, both mentioned in the retail statement accompanying the application as being infeasible sites for redevelopment as they contain a tenant mix committed to medium and long-term leases. A new mall, therefore, was seen as the key to moving Keighley's retail status forward, and rubber-stamping the town as the primary retail destination in the Airedale corridor, and after a six-year land acquisition process, Stainsby Grange have now gone
Tying in nicely with my previous blog, the developers have, admirably, taken pains to explicitly write in the Design and Access statement that social media has been embraced, with the creation of www.facebook.com/worthvalleyshoppingcentre. The site currently has 22 'likes' and 1 'talking about' - which isn't actually too bad for a shopping centre by comparison, but maybe a bit more promotion in the right areas is needed for the site to take off.
If, as indicated, construction is due to begin in early 2013 it would be a welcome fillip for the retail development pipeline, which is looking rather shaky after the nearby Trinity Leeds completes. Additionally, £300 million worth of local investment combined with the creation of 500 jobs is nothing to sneeze at - particularly in an area that has been measurably blighted by the economic downturn.
The real test, of course, comes after opening; when we will be able to gauge if indeed Worth Valley has contributed to or detracted from the retail market in Keighley. Careful measures need to be taken to ensure that there is no temptation to draw trade away from Airedale or Cavendish, even if a further downturn in the retail market necessitates a shift in target occupiers.
Some intriguing research was published this week by BCSC, which investigated shopping centres' relationship with social media, and how retail schemes could better utilise such platforms to their future advantage.
By analysing primary data collected from shopping centre managers and social media users, BCSC were able to determine how effectively the two were interacting.
Some statistics published in the research were illuminating. When asked why they didn't follow a shopping centre on social media, a combined figure of 31% of the respondents said that they were either unaware of the scheme's on-line presence or had never considered it as a means of interaction. In addition, only 12% of shopping centre managers said that a dedicated social media executive was tasked with managing their on-line output, and less than half of the centres (42%) carry any written guidelines on social media usage.
These are just a few of the statistics that point to a missed opportunity for schemes to engage with customers on an increasingly popular platform. There seems to be a very clear and obvious dichotomy between what the public would want from a shopping centre via social media, and what those centres are currently providing. The malls seem to currently churn out repetitive marketing material, precipitating a swift click of the 'unfollow' button. People would, in fact, prefer malls to inform them of new store openings, upcoming events and news about improvements to the centre.
An issue that is brought up in defence of social media negligence is one of metrics. Malls find it difficult to quantify the benefit given to them by an increased on-line presence, and whether indeed it would be worth spending money improving their output on such sites in order to generate increases in revenue that may have arrived regardless. My view is that with some 175 million people people now using Twitter, and 400 million logging onto Facebook daily, is ignoring the potential of social media a risk that retailers and retail developments can afford to take?
The fact is, more and more people are harnessing the 'wisdom of crowds' provided by these sites to inform their choices when it comes to retail - and negative on-line publicity spreads like wildfire. Without active management of social media output, centres could find their reputations tarnished in the blink of an eye via a chatroom, hashtag, or an orchestrated on-line campaign.
Read the full report on-line here.
An interesting development in Basingstoke today; the local football club has decided to switch from the old Camrose stadium to a new 5,000-capacity ground adjacent to the Hilton Hotel in order to meet the requisite standards to play in a higher league.
The old ground will be sold off in order to fund the new £10 million arena, and turned into a new retail park, the size of which seems to have baffled our beloved BBC. They list the intended size of the new scheme as being 90,000 sq ft (27,432 sq m) - which is an astonishing mismatch of metric and imperial measurements to the tune of being wrong by 19,072 sq m!
I once met a Basingstoke resident who told me that the Camrose Stadium was, in fact, spelt entirely with capital letters in all local publications; and as such needed to be shouted at every mention. I look forward, therefore, to the planning, building and letting of the CAMROSE
SHOPPING PARK, where all customers and staff will be forced to bellow at each other over every transaction, or face ejection from the premises.
This is another example of the growing link between stadia and shopping arenas. In Milton Keynes, MK1 Shopping Park will be situated directly adjacent to the MK Dons stadium upon completion next autumn. Similarly, Southend United's new stadium (left) will feature 23,000 sq m (247,600 sq ft) of retail space to accompany flats, a hotel and a conference centre.