Oct 26, 2017
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Supermalls are increasingly key for Gen Z and Millennial retail super fans - report

Oct 26, 2017

‘Supermalls’ in the UK are set to outperform physical retail growth overall, as they attract Millennial shoppers by including more leisure options in their mix, according to a new report from GlobalData.

Supermall Bluewater is Europe's largest - Wikimedia

But fashion will remain the biggest retail product sector at such malls, even though some smaller categories will beat it on the growth front.

So what exactly are supermalls? GlobalData defines them as those malls with over a million square feet of space and more than 20 million visits a year, which means we’re talking about the Bluewaters and Westfields here, but perhaps not some of the UK’s high-profile yet-not-quite-so-large malls such as the newly-opened Westgate in Oxford.

Overall, GlobalData expects the UK supermalls market to rise 7.2% over the next five years, outpacing 5% forecast growth in other non-food physical locations.

And it thinks that health & beauty and jewellery are set to be the fastest growing sectors, rising by 14.5% and 13.8% respectively.


The all-round appeal of supermalls will drive the market to reach £12.3bn in 2022, GlobalData said. But while these malls are key for consumers to buy fashion and related goods, the researchers believe that their growth would be largely boosted by the wide variety of food service and leisure options there with consumer desire to spend on experiences and services only set to grow.

The analysts said that in the last 12 months, 43.2% of the UK population have visited a supermall, attracted by the wide choice of retailers and products, alongside the experience that a supermall offers.

And senior retail analyst Sofie Willmott said that younger shoppers have the highest penetration of all age groups, with 69.2% of 16-24 year-olds visiting a supermall in the period. This backs up data also seen in the US that shows Gen Z and young Milllenials still deserving the ‘mall rat’ tag as they stay in love with physical mall stores but want more than their small local neighbourhood mall.

Globaldata said the rising demand of the ‘foodie’ Millennial has driven supermalls to focus on their food service offer alongside leisure, with developments planned over the next five years mainly focused on leisure as opposed to retail expansion.


Aiming to take advantage of this, fashion retailers such as Primark, H&M and JD Sports have created large format destination stores in supermalls with strengthened product ranges suggesting a new set of key retailers will usurp traditional anchors such as Debenhams, Next and M&S in the coming years.

Willmott said Department stores have traditionally been the anchor retailers and “have brought credibility to supermalls however as fashion players such as H&M, Zara and Missguided invest in exciting, upscaled stores demonstrating their brand credentials and offering a broad range, it is questionable whether these longstanding stalwarts are still a requirement.”

She added that a best-in-class multichannel experience is vital at supermalls to protect against spend shifting online. “Supermalls are more attractive to consumers than other physical locations due to the additional services available,” she said. “However as online sales continue to rise and physical shopping missions reduce in frequency, supermalls must ensure they remain relevant and can offer the same seamless experience that online shopping provides. The promotion of convenient services like CollectPlus lounges and ‘hands-free’ shopping will enhance the customer experience and increase spend per visit.” 

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