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Kirsty and Phil are right – it’s all about location

Diane Wehrle is research director at footfall monitoring service Springboard.

The old adage of ‘location, location, location’ in determining retail success has never been more apposite. We are in the throes of the greatest change in the way we shop since the birth of the supermarket, so inevitably the relationship between the success of retail stores and the locations in which they’re situated - while still inextricably linked - is also evolving.

The digital revolution means the way we are using retail destinations and the outlets within them is shifting, and this is occurring to different degrees and over differing timescales from location to location.

While overall Springboard’s national footfall index registers a high street decline of 1.1% for the year to date, the underlying picture is one of great variety, from a rise of 3.5% in Northern Ireland to a drop of 3.9% in the West Midlands.

What we are seeing is imperceptible but real change in the UK’s retailing sector. In addition to the perennial challenges around stock, staffing andmerchandising, there is the added requirement of needing a better understanding of each location and its performance.

When opening a store, it is no longer sufficient to identify footfall on a given high street and assume it will stay the same.

Equally, you cannot assume a particular store will be able to capture this level of footfall. Benchmarking a shop against its location is key, for if it is underperforming it may well be because of a change in the performance of the retail destination rather than the store itself.

As important is the need to establish a store’s capture rate - the proportion of footfall in the destination that is attracted into a store.

Our analytics suggest there is an average capture rate for fashion retailers of 14%, but this spans a range from 80% to just 1%.

And we also know this changes by day and even by hour, so if a store’s capture rate is below the norm
or on the wane, then - however the location is performing - it clearly indicates underperformance and a need
for action.

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