Amidst pessimistic news articles and market predictions for 2017, it has been promising to see a wide range of reports documenting new builds, redevelopments, investment plans and strong performance across the shopping centre industry.
What does 2017 have in store?
According to Cushman & Wakefield, the industry will experience a four-year high in shopping centre development with six new developments and eight extensions due to open this year, including the long-awaited Lexicon in Bracknell and Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford.
Councils featured regularly in the news during 2016 with a real estate spending spree of £1bn, including The Mall Camberley which was purchased by Surrey Heath Borough Council as part of a deal worth £86m. This spree has been driven by cheap loans from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) and the aspiration to compensate for the impact of government funding cuts, with a direct advantage of controlling and driving town centre regeneration.
The rise of clicks over bricks has dominated headlines and there has been a surge of new strategies by shopping centre management teams to target this, but there is only so much they can do before retailers have to take ownership. The industry is rapidly evolving and retailers are reinventing stores to integrate new technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and beacons that enhance the customer experience and make it unique.
I am particularly excited to see what is in store (excuse the pun!) this year.