Out of Town Shopping | Does it really work?

Colchester high street

Out of Town Shopping | Does it really work?

For many years now out of town shopping has been an ever increasing trend.

New retail parks opening up everywhere, more and more stores moving out of town centres into retail parks.

But does it really work? Why is there such a focus on moving out of town centres?

Town Centre shoppingSome of the benefits for stores owners are obvious:

Newer buildings with lower maintenance costs.
Often there is more space to use on a single or two floors.
Easier access for deliveries of goods.
Some say business rates are lower.
Easier access for staff and delivery drivers, not needing to negotiate sometimes busy narrow town centre streets.

And the list goes on, but does opening a store in a retail park really work in the long run?


Having stores in retail parks is no guarantee of success

Its obvious that having stores in retail parks is no guarantee of success. There are ample examples of that fact.

JJB sports
PC world
Toys R Us

I’m sure you can think of many more. let me know in the comments below.

Retail parks have one major flaw

Now let me be clear, I’m not against retail parks per-se, I’m definitely not against online shopping at all.

But in my humble opinion retail parks have one major drawback and it is the very thing that will eventually be it’s downfall.

Shopping in general has had a tough time primarily due to the convenience of online shopping.

We all do it, when we just need that quick item we jump on our laptops or phones  and place that order.

But I think many have found, especially during lockdown, is that actually they miss the shopping experience of going into town and do our shopping.

We look around at wonderful architecture, we have a coffee in that old Clock museum with the creaky floor boards.

A bit of window shopping, we listen to the live band in the square, or we watch the juggler for a moment, and we also pop into several shops and stores to get those bits we need.

In other words It’s a day out!! its a trip that achieves several objectives. We got the items we need from several places but we’ve also had a healthy walk in the fresh air,

We met some friends and had a coffee in the wonderful surroundings of, the often very, old town centres, IT MAKES US HAPPY. It does our mental health good and we’ve had a truly great shopping experience. So we keep coming back and back and back again. Town centre shopping is the cure for the illness that is the bore of online shopping. 

Now imagine doing this in a retail park!? a retail park can never match the experience of walking round a town centre. It’s purely a functional exercise designed for speed or convenience.

Big stores that take ages to get round, usually all indoors. We get in the car two or three times to get to the next store, and so it goes on.

It’s efficient in one sense but it totally lacks any kind of shopping experience. So in the end we just as easily sit at home and order online…


We’re following a USA model

For some reason in the UK we always seem to have to follow the trends in the USA.

I would argue that we’re about 5 years behind in the USA which is fighting a losing battle against online shopping for the simple reason that shopping in a Mall is functional. it achieves only one objective which is the buying of products, but this can also be achieved online and so the battle is lost.

We don’t want to end up like some places in the USA where Malls are standing empty. Huge big retail parks with empty units everywhere.

So lets open our eyes and save our town centres, We NEED them for our  own mental health.

The recent announcement of the closure of M&S in Colchester is devastating on some many levels. Not only for their customers many who are elderly but for M&S themselves too.

I fear this could be the beginning of the end for M&S, a backward move because they’re trying to reduce their overheads, maintaining old buildings, will ultimately become their downfall.

So unlike the video that did not kill the radio star in the end, its very possible that online shopping WILL kill the retail park…


If you haven’t already please sign the petition

Write to the senior executives of M&S:

Mr Steve Rowe
Chief Executive
Marks and Spencer
Waterside House
35 North Wharf Road
London W2 1NW


You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Barbara Butler says:

    I’ve been banging on about the ugliness, the inconvenience and the ridiculous situation of the small group of islands we live in to copy the US shopping and transport trends and expect them to work. I used to run my own car, but found my asthma was worse when using it (apart from the arthritis in my neck and shoulders). I also disliked shopping at large supermarkets, which took and age. It was a chore. There was no pleasure in it. I gave the car up. I did all my shopping in the town centre, which is ten minutes walk from my home. I use public transport, preferably rail, because it avoids roads and it better for my asthma. We’ve just had a pandemic which has proved fatal for many people. The high incidence of cancer (1/2 people now suffer from it), dementia and chronic asthma can all, in part, be attributed to road traffic fumes and poor air quality. The air quality, now that people are out and about again in their cars, has plummeted to pre-pandemic levels. With soaring fuel costs, it will be difficult for people to afford their own private transport, which is necessary for this kind of shopping. a radical re-think of lifestyles is required. Today I met some of the many Londoners who take the train to Colchester to stay, explore, take tours and shop. In certain age groups, it costs Londoners very little using their freedom passes. There is a huge an growing group of non-car owners and non-car drivers. University lecturers, intellectuals and professionals who have never driven and have never seen the point of it, people who join car share schemes and only use them when they need to and others who make the conscious decision to give up their vehicles because they do not wish to add to air pollution.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.