Retail parks prove popular with shoppers and retailers alike

Retail parks prove popular with shoppers and retailers alike
La promenade de Flandres (Roncq) © Wilmotte & Associés SA

Retail parks' appeal continues to grow, both with retailers and shoppers all across Europe. Relatively low costs and easy accessibility are important drivers of growth. The mixture of rental parties is also evolving.


Strong development

Europe's new floor space in retail parks grew 734,000 sqm in 2015, about 2 % more than in 2014. Construction fever is highest in France, Belgium and Great Britain according to real estate advisor Cushman & Wakefield's newest report. On 1 January 2016, Europe had 33.5 million sqm of store space in retail parks and it will add another 2.1 million sqm over the next two years.

One of the major European developments is the Promenade de Flandre project, located next to the Auchan in Roncq. It will open in 2017 and is located across the French border, but targets Belgian shoppers. 


More of an experience

There are plenty of good reasons why retailers prefer a retail park. The relatively low costs, flexibility when it comes to store decoration, logistical accessibility, possible click & collection services and a chance to trial new formulas are the most important reasons. On the other hand, consumers love the accessibility, free parking, the wide range of retailers and the "one stop shopping" option. 

Cushman & Wakefield also points out several interesting trends: generally, the vacancy rate has dropped, while visitor numbers are up. The parks' location is improving quality wise, thanks to renovations and redevelopments. Convenience is no longer a retail park's only asset, as the customer experience is also becoming ever more important, while architecture and design also receive additional attention.



Those retailers that are usually active in urban centers or shopping centers (like Zara, H&M, Célio and C&A) are now experimenting whether retail parks can become another possible location for future stores. New parties, from the entertainment and leisure industries, draw in a wider audience, while high-quality food formulas are an added value. Many retailers do choose to implement a franchise formula, in order to reduce the risk possible new ideas may bring. 

The real estate consultant also sees an increase in small-scale projects that target local markets, with smaller supermarkets or discounters like Aldi or Lidle often as the driving force. To this end, retailers also create smaller, adjusted store formulas, with Maisons Du Monde as a perfect example.

Retail parks are a wonderful fit for companies with an omnichannel strategy, because there are opportunities to create click & collect formulas and that is why Cushman & Wakefield believes their future looks promising. Most European countries have very few limitations when it comes to new retail parks, although Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany have decided to slow things down.


Retail parks: development in 2015 

 Country New sqm in 2015
 France  393,000
 Belgium  102,000
 Great Britain  66,000