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LDC X Sook Retail Market Update - a summary
Date published: Date modified: 2023-08-16

On the 21st of March, we brought together leaders across the retail, leisure, and property sectors for an invite-only market update, hosted in one of the fantastic Sook spaces. Sook takes the hassle out of pop-up and short-term rental units for brands with their portfolio of beautiful and flexible spaces across England.

We were delighted to host with Sook in their unit on Shoreditch high street, as we believe their business is one good example of the innovation driving major change across retail in the UK. Not only are vacant units redeveloped into sleek-looking spaces, but the variety of occupiers that use these units for brand activations drive additional footfall to retail locations.


IMG_2460Photos by Mirabella Marmalade

With standing room only, LDC Commercial Director Lucy Stainton launched the event, providing an overview of the latest LDC report, reviewing statistics on the full year 2023. The overall outlook was relatively positive, with the trajectory of loss across chain occupiers reducing, alongside slowing increases in vacancy rates. However, growing levels of long-term vacancy highlighted the structural challenges that continued to face the market.

John Hoyle, Founder of Sook then delivered a short presentation on how the Sook model works - by providing space so flexible occupiers can rent them on an hourly basis. Not only are the spaces fully managed but rich analytics can be provided on how the space is used such as footfall data and heat mapping. Brands to use these spaces include Ikea, Depop, Chilly’s, Canon, Converse, Mastercard, Freddie’s Flowers, Universal, Radley, and Uber, to name a few.


IMG_2595Photos by Mirabella Marmalade

A quote from John perfectly sums up Sook’s mission:

“Sook democratises access to physical space on the high street by removing the barriers to entry, such as expensive setup costs, high-priced leases and long-term agreements. It also takes the concept of pop-up spaces to the next level, with no need for the cost of a traditional fit-out or the requirement to rent space for weeks on end.”

Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience on a range of topics from how Sook uses data and how a client of theirs might measure success for brand activations.


IMG_3301Photos by Mirabella Marmalade

There was much discussion around broader trends such as the independent market being impacted by the cost of living crisis, which sectors are growing, and why retail parks are so resilient compared with shopping centres and high street locations.

A quote from Lucy Stainton

“It was a privilege to host our event in the Sook unit on Shoreditch high street. While our latest report provided us with the most positive market outlook for some time, presenting LDC stats year on year really identifies that changes are needed to ensure physical retail is evolving as quickly as it needs to. The success of the Sook proposition tells us that consumers do value physical retail and the experience that can offer compared to the convenience of online shopping.

At LDC we are passionate about supporting the physical retail market. With our proprietary data and newly acquired population forecasting capabilities thanks to our acquisition of Edge Analytics, we believe we have a fantastic toolkit to support occupiers and property companies to build a sustainable and bright future for their bricks and mortar portfolios.’


We’ll be back in September for our much-anticipated Retail and Leisure Summit, so please keep an eye on our website for news.

For more information on Sook and its portfolio of flexible space, visit the website here.

Sarah Phillips

Sarah Phillips The Local Data Company 901 901

Sarah joined the team in 2016 and is responsible for the management of all marketing channels for the Local Data Company. Having always worked in B2B, she brings with her varied experience in online and offline marketing including content marketing, events and digital.

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