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The new UK retail hotspots and trends for 2018

Drapers takes a look at the new retail developments set to emerge in the UK in 2018, while Local Data Company’s Matthew Hopkinson discusses the sector’s store count trends this year.

After a flurry of openings including The Lexicon, Bracknell in Berkshire, Westgate Oxford and Rushden Lakes in Northamptonshire in 2017, the next year is shaping up to be a quieter 12 months for new retail development launches in the UK.

London looks set to open the lion’s share of new locations for retailers in 2018, and hot spots are clustering around the expected launch of the Elizabeth Line (previously known as Crossrail) – the new train line due to launch in December 2018 that will run through parts of London and the home counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex.

Coal Drops Yard

King’s Cross shopping development Coal Drops Yard is expected to launch in October, with 100,000 sq ft of retail, leisure and events space. Brands signing up to the scheme so far include English footwear brand Cheaney, north London-based ethical bag brand Lost Property of London and locally based eyewear business Cubitts. These will be part of 65 shops built into the city’s old Victorian coal stores.

It forms part of a £1bn construction programme for the area surrounding King’s Cross and St Pancras International railway stations, which is creating 8m sq ft of offices, homes, commercial and public spaces, including 500,000 sq ft for retail and leisure.

Westfield London

Located to the west of the UK capital, Westfield London’s £1bn expansion is gearing up to launch in March, adding 740,000 sq ft of new space to the original shopping centre. The extension to the centre, which originally opened in 2008, will feature a 70,000 sq ft Primark store, while Chinese fast fashion brand Urban Revivo will be making its UK debut with a 22,000 sq ft shop.

Additional retailers set to open their doors at the development include lingerie brand Bravissimo and men’s shirting brand Frencheye. The largest store within the new site will be John Lewis, which has signed for 230,000 sq ft.


Located at the Royal Docks in east London, £3.5bn development Silvertown Quays is slated to launch before March 2018. The creative district will be anchored by several “brand pavilions” for leading brands and retailers to use as showrooms, combining spaces for offices, products, exhibitions and retailing. It will also create 3,000 new homes and a piazza, on top of 21,000 jobs.

Plans also include a bridge across Royal Victoria Dock, connecting Silvertown Quays with the Elizabeth Line, previously known as Crossrail, station at Custom House.

Oxford Street

London mayor Sadiq Khan unveiled a £60m plan to pedestrianise Oxford Street by the end of 2018 to coincide with the launch of the Elizabeth Line. If proposals are given the go-ahead, traffic will be banned on the east-west section running from Oxford Circus to Orchard Street.

As part of these measures, the road will be raised to sit level with existing pavements, and new seating will be added along the street. An 800-metre long work of public art will also be commissioned to run the length of the street, while the next stage will bring in new public spaces and cycle routes, 25 pedestrian crossings and more taxi ranks.

Key trends for 2017

The Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson talks to Drapers about retail trends from this year, as we move into 2018

There has been a decline in the number of fashion and general clothing stores this year, and it is becoming an increasingly challenging landscape.

Our research shows that in 2017, overall store numbers for fashion and the general clothing sector have declined by 4% on the high street and by 5% in shopping centres compared with 2016, but have seen a 1% rise in retail parks.

Geographically, the greatest regional decline was seen in Yorkshire and Humber, which saw a 6% drop in general clothing shops. This was followed by both the West Midlands and Scotland, which were each down by 5%. Wales saw the least reduction, with a 2% decrease.

Among these, we are seeing more of a divide between mass value and premium brands.

Overall store count at TK Maxx has grown by 4% and M&Co by 5% over the past 12 months, with H&M up 2% and Primark seeing 1% growth. However, we’ve seen store numbers at Monsoon decline by 7%.

I think the retailers to watch next year are New Look and House of Fraser, with credit ratings at both downgraded by Moody’s earlier this month. New Look in particular has more than 550 stores, of which nearly half (48%) are located at shopping centres and 37% on the high street.

This compares with Peacocks, which has 464, and Next’s 423 stores. River Island, H&M and Dorothy Perkins all have under 300 stores. The fact that New Look has so many more stores in a lot of locations stands out for me, as they are often one of the largest cost lines in such businesses.

Other retailers to keep an eye out for include Next, which has seen its high street store count fall by 9% and shopping centre numbers by 4%, but increasing it stores by 4% at transport hubs and smaller, out-of-town locations. Since Next is traditionally seen as a benchmark, it could signal a big change in terms of where physical retail could be heading.

As lower consumer confidence and spending continues to affect the sector, the more astute retailers are looking to create new in-store experiences to attract customers. The challenge is figuring out how to adjust as places for consumers to live, work and play, as both retail and leisure destinations.

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