Even more mobile phone shops are set to appear in 2008 – despite what appears to be saturation on the high street, and a bleak economic outlook for next year.
A senior property executive made the forecast, saying that mobile companies will look to smaller towns, and will be key players in the huge amount of shopping centre space that will come onto the market over the next 12 months.
Jason Sibthorpe, head of in-town retail at GVA Grimley, said: ‘There has been no major slowing down in mobile companies wanting to open more stores in 2007, and I don’t see that changing in 2008.’
He added: ‘Mobile retailers that already have an established portfolio will start branching out further into mid-tier towns and will also look at second stores in major centres and perhaps even consider second stores in some smaller towns, if they feel they can dominate market share.
‘Retailers and networks will no doubt continue to evolve and expand their offer with a focus on media and complementary ancillary products. This is significant in creating customer interest, but also in convincing landlords that they’ve got something different to offer than racks of mobile phones. Landlords continue to take a tough stance on pure mobile retailers when considering tenant engineering in their shopping centres.
‘Ideally, landlords want to see a proposition that is physically different to traditional mobile phone shops. They don’t want to see a token gesture of broadband in a corner of a shop, but they are very interested in seeing media come alive in retail. This is a concept that Virgin Media is pioneering.
‘With regards to general retail development, there is a significant amount of new space to come to the market in the next five years; in the region of 50-60 million square foot, which is primarily shopping centre development within town centres.
‘The recent planning legislation has made it more difficult for retail parks to be developed and therefore the supply is more town centre led. With so much new space coming onto the market, the big issue will be whether there is sufficient demand from retailers to fill the space given the current fragile state of the economy.’