Research article

Repurposing shopping centres

Rightsizing and the alternatives

Reports from the US suggest there is an 'Armageddon' facing shopping centres with some malls being mothballed and even demolished. The question is, could this happen in the UK?

While UK retailing is facing the same structural shifts it is relatively more insulated as the quantum of retail floorspace per head is far lower here than in the US.

That is not to say some level of 'rightsizing' is required to ensure centres have the right quantum of space in line with retailer and consumer demand. This does not mean centres will become redundant; even secondary and tertiary centres play an important role in convenience retailing, but many were built before the arrival of e-commerce and some are simply too large.

So what to do with the excess space?

To date, the focus has been on allocating excess retail space to food & beverage provision, a useful tool in enhancing a locations attraction to shoppers and increasing dwell time. However, there are a number of other alternatives, some of which are listed below, that can also help deliver a more mixed and vibrant environment as well as generating additional footfall to support the existing retail element.

Residential: Better suited to locations where demand and values ensure conversion is feasible. While residential can increase values it also translates into a larger resident population helping to support retail sales and in turn retailer demand.

Public space: While not generating ‘direct’ additional value the demolition of excess of space could provide an opportunity to create appealing public spaces ultimately enhancing the attractiveness of the location as a place to shop to the benefit of the remaining retail element, whilst also reducing rating liability on long term void space.

Offices: John Lewis is reportedly on the cusp of repurposing unused retail space as co-working offices in some of its larger stores. As shopping centres are typically well connected, as well as offering retail and leisure amenities on-site, they could prove attractive workplace locations.

Logistics: With high demand for ‘last mile’ logistics space to fulfil online deliveries, using redundant space as distribution hubs or ‘dark kitchens’ could be a valuable alternative.

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Key contacts

Simon Smith

Simon Smith

Senior Director
Research & Consultancy

Two Exchange Square

+852 2842 4573


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