London: the world’s ultimate retail destination

I love living and working in London and truly believe that it is the world’s ultimate retail destination. In fact, London’s attractiveness to the world’s top international retailers has been well documented in Destination Europe 2015.

It is therefore, no surprise that the ICSC has chosen London to host it’s 40th European Conference here this week. The conference will focus on ‘Destination Retail’ and how important it is for retail places to provide entertainment, experience and become ‘destinations’ that customers want to spend time in.

And London certainly captures this idea, as detailed in JLL’s London Retail City Profile. There are so many retail spaces throughout the city that combine entertainment with retail, whether it be Kingly Court’s bars and restaurants alongside the independent boutiques in Carnaby, or the mix of theatres and international retailers in Seven Dials, or the famous luxury shops on Bond Street.

The West End alone attracted 390 million visitors and contributed £51.25bn to the UK economy last year!

Not just about the West End

If you get bored of the West End then you have two World Class shopping centres in the form of Westfield London and Westfield Stratford which are easily reached from central London and are home to some of the latest British and international brands.

High Street retail – the future?

Despite there being much media attention about the decline of high streets in the wake of the rise in online shopping, looking around the busy streets of the West End it’s easy to see that this isn’t the case! As discussed in JLL’s Redefining Retail Places project, retail places should look to future proof themselves by embedding key resilience attributes.

London’s West End is the personification of physical resilience in an increasingly virtual world. First, it has immense scale of offer, with the main shopping streets together forming the largest concentration of retail in Europe. It also delivers unrivalled breadth of retail offer; hosting over 250 international retailers’ flagship stores as well as the unique and world- famous London Luxury Quarter.

With the first-class ’beyond retail’ activities such as tourist attractions, dining, galleries and theatre, the experience of shopping in the West End is very demanding to replicate elsewhere. It is therefore, no surprise that in the last 12 months, over 80 national and international retail and leisure operators opened new stores in the West End alone!

One of my personal favourite new openings in London is Finisterre, a specialist cold water surf clothing company. It is a really great, award winning brand that supports local manufacturers and adds to the diversity of London’s retail offering.

Retail Destination – Seven Dials

The growing demand from retailers, coupled with a lack of availability and record rental levels on traditionally prime streets, is resulting in a ‘ripple effect’ where streets previously thought of as peripheral, are actually becoming retailing destinations in their own right!

Seven Dials is one example of this. The eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and entertainment create a village feel in the centre of London. Seven Dials has created an identity for itself and draws on the culture and heritage area, two attributes discussed in Redefining Retail Places, would recommend anyone visiting the city to have a look!

I’m very much looking forward to welcoming colleagues, retailers, investors and developers from around the world to London at the ICSC Retail Connections Conference next week and hope everyone enjoys their time here!

Lucie Penn is a Marketing Executive for the European Retail Team and works closely with the ICSC as part JLL’s ICSC European Partnership.

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