Retailers should be wary of the lure of out-of-town store locations because young consumers still primarily shop on the high street, retail business software company CTS Retail warns.
What CTS Retail calls Generation-Y, 14 to 21-year-olds, is more dependent on public transport than older shoppers and more likely to be in town centres due to spending time at places typically found in these locations such as schools, colleges and leisure centres.
Despite the rise of online retail in the last few years, young people still see high street shopping as a regular leisure activity and CTS Retail’s Managing Director Scott Storey thinks that by deserting the town retailers could be hiding themselves away from their best customers.
“Clearly accessibility should be the deciding factor when considering moving out of town for the first time and although retail parks are accessible, they simply aren’t as convenient as the high street,” Storey argues.
“They may allow shoppers to see a larger range of products from the retailer but the high street is the main focus of all those between 14 and 21 who don’t drive and will use public transport.
“This generation are the ones with the disposable income; they are also key influencers.”
The lure of out-of-town rental rates is becoming increasing attractive to cash-strapped retailers, as discussed in a recent feature by Retail Gazette, and the government has said that it will try and boost the beleaguered town centres in its forthcoming Localism Bill.
High street sales across the country were broadly flat last month but the picture is mixed across the countries with large centres performing well but smaller centres like Margate recording occupancies of just over 30 per cent.
Storey still believes however that the high street has a future and that any retailer abandoning this important trading location is not thinking about the long term.
“The out-of-town offering only works if you have a mix of retailers there and are actually creating a mini town centre with all that people would need in one place but the problem remains with getting the younger generation there,” Storey adds.
“Also we mustn’t forget the aging population who again will struggle to access the out-of-town options.”