Profitability, people and the planet: a roundup of LDC's 26th Retail & Leisure Trends Summit
Date published: Date modified: 2023-08-16

The Local Data Company's 26th Retail & Leisure Trends Summit marked our first in-person event since 2019, hosted in partnership with NatWest at their London Bishopsgate Conference Centre on the 22nd September.

Head of Retail and Leisure at NatWest David Scott opened the event with the three key values that had proved central to NatWest's relationship with its clients: partnerships, people and protecting profitability. COVID had proved the value of collaboration, he said, and nurturing strong relationships and implementing sustainable business structures was at the heart of what NatWest had centred its focus on since the pandemic.

Retail Trust CEO Chris Brook-Carter spoke of the unprecedented levels of pressure on retail colleagues across the industry and shared the Retail Trust's recent findings, which highlighted a crucial need for support for the people of retail. Fears over growing living costs, increased levels of burnout and strained working relationships drove a 19% month-on-month rise in callers to the charity's helpline, the first ever increase from July to August. Health and happiness must be on every board's agenda, Chris said, and be equally as important as the weekly sales figures.

LDC Commercial Director Lucy Stainton then shared our latest analysis on H1 2022, which includes plenty of green shoots of positivity across the sector. GB vacancy rates continued to decline in H1 2022. A fall of 0.5% since H1 2021 marks the largest decline in vacancy since records began in 2013. This was mainly driven by the leisure sector, which benefitted from pent-up demand following the pandemic, although the retail vacancy rate is beginning to catch up with a fall of 0.4% over H1 2022. Convenience stores and independent hospitality performed strongly over the H1 period as the trend for shopping local has continued.

Our panellists represented a breadth of industry knowledge and experience: LDC Head of Insight & Analytics Ronald Nyakairu, founder and CEO of Sook John Hoyle, MD of Treatwell Miranda Mathews and retail expert Mark Newton-Jones sat down with Lucy to share their own perspectives on the future of the retail industry and answer audience questions.

The panel discussed the sustainable, innovative business practices that could define the future of retail. (L-R: John Hoyle, Miranda Mathews, Ronald Nyakairu, Mark Newton-Jones and Lucy Stainton.)

The future, the panellists agreed, seems to carry significant levels of difficulty. Challenges abound for businesses across the sector, and further casualties are likely. But this uncertain future has created space for innovation: there are opportunities to reimagine what a tenant looks like, from influencers to digital natives, and shape leases and spaces to fit. More purposeful consumer shopping behaviour, which blends the digital and physical, could support more sustainable, ethical business models. The great shakeout of the pandemic has left behind the more resilient concepts, which may be better equipped to withstand the coming challenges.

The panellists concluded the session in general agreement: there are difficult times ahead for the retail industry, and supporting each other and working together will be the key to weathering the storm.

Our H1 2022 retail and leisure trends report is now available for download. Click here to access your copy.

Sarah Abu-Amero, LDC Marketing Executive

Sarah Abu-Amero, LDC Marketing Executive The Local Data Company 901 901

Sarah joined LDC in 2021, having previously worked as a copywriter and social media manager. She supports the team with digital and written communication, planning and creating content for the company’s website and social accounts.

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