Breaking a Habit

Breaking a Habit

The Beverage Standards Association brings you Peter’s Monday 4th October 2021 Weekly Briefing every Tuesday morning.

Monday, 4th October 2021 Weekly Briefing

Sitting down with a few relaxing moments to myself in a shopping centre is not what I normally do. But it’s possible to be breaking a habit and that’s what happened a couple of weeks ago at Bluewater. Its catchment area stretches from Cambridge to the south coast, and from Dover to Guildford. Over 7,000 people are (or were) employed there. It attracts (or used to attract) 28 million shoppers every year. It has (or had) 55 cafes and bars. In some ways, then, Bluewater is a microcosm of what makes the UK shopping economy tick. And what I saw there made me think. For example:

• KFC had run out of straws and salt; staff were calling in at McDonald’s for replacements. Conclusion: Shortages are disrupting normal patterns of business.

• Over 30 shops were boarded up. Conclusion: Massive changes to shopping habits are being disrupted by online shopping with a consequent huge impact on retailer sustainability.

• In the “old days”, everything stayed open until 9pm. On my visit, some restaurants like Yo! Sushi had closed early. Conclusion: Labour shortages, plus reduced customer spend, disrupt trading patterns and prevent restaurants from providing normal service

• In the food hall a constant stream of riders from Deliveroo and Just Eat were making their collections. Conclusion: Delivery continues to disrupt patterns of sales (and disrupt many consumers’ enjoyment of their shopping space).


So, I concluded that shortages of products and labour, changes in shopping habits and delivery, have disrupted Bluewater and many others like it around the country. The crucial thing is: what happens now – to shopping centres, their tenants, and their customers? I am not sufficiently experienced in the retail property world to try to answer the first question. As for the last, consumers will continue to change their ways of shopping (just as they have done over the years).

Thank you for reading part of the Monday 4th October 2021 Weekly Briefing. A full edition can be found here.

Peters Monthly Report for September 2021 is now available here.

Peter provides consultancy on the eating out market and opens eyes to brand new ways of thinking about the sector and its multiple opportunities for success.

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