Macro, meso and micro environmental drivers of high street change – progress so far

An update on the #HSUK2020 project so far. We have reviewed around about 150 of the 250 retail centre studies. These are all research projects that have investigated the impact of a variety of factors on town centre performance. Factors reviewed are in three main categories.

Macro environmental
This includes planning legislation, the impacts of the economy, changes in supply chains and manufacturing, social changes such as the increasing car ownership, technological changes such as ability to shop online.

Meso environmental
These factors include anything relating to competition, be that from other size centres or out-of-town locations. It also includes customers, in other words the demographic and other factors inherent in the catchment as well as their preferences relating to centre attractiveness and accessibility. The category also contains suppliers. In this context, suppliers means those that supply ‘offer’ to the retail centre. This means retailers. The innovation in retail formats and structure is a major area of the review – and how this impacts town centres.

Micro environmental
These factors include anything that can be managed (or could be managed) at the town centre level. This includes retail mix, the availability and pricing of parking, whether town centre management is in place, the impact of branding or marketing etc.

We have been conducting a Realtime review of the major findings and tweeting these. This has resulted in around 600 tweets so far. You can read them by following @placemanagement

Next stage will be putting all these into some sort of model that explains all the different factors that impact on the town centre, and rates them in terms of importance. At the weekends, our MSc in Internet Retailing started to do this with 200 or so of the tweets created.

Some examples of the tweets are below

After Merry Hill opened, Brierley Hill’s lost 3% of retail space by 1992 compared to 1986 total (Roger Tym and Partners, 1993). Feb 25, 2014
The only regional out-of-town centre constructed in the UK prior to the 1980s was Brent Cross in north-west London, in 1976. Lowe 2005. Feb 25, 2014
More frequent shoppers spend less per visit. Marjanen 2000. But what about the concept of lifetime value? #HSUK2020 Feb 25, 2014
In general, those most critical of a town’s retail provision were the middle-aged, i.e. 35-55-year olds. Marjanen 2000. Feb 25, 2014
People do not seem to judge the retail supply in city centres and in rural areas according to the same standards. Marjanen 2000. #HSUK2020 Feb 25, 2014
Consumers place more importance on attributes that a large-format retailer emphasises in its market communication (Arnold et al., 1998). Feb 25, 2014
Large format retailers impact most on small town centres in sparsely populated areas and neighbourhood centres (Marjanen, 1998) #HSUK2020 Feb 25, 2014
Parking policies are of lower importance in determining centre choice than other factors -eg quality/breadth of retail. Marsden 2006. Feb 25, 2014
There are no legislative barriers to the development of car-free housing but very little has been constructed in the UK. Marsden 2006. Feb 25, 2014
In London retail centres, car drivers spend £64 per week, bus users £63 per week whilst those who walk spend £91 per week.(Sharp, 2005). Feb 25, 2014
There is no systematic evidence that lax parking standards encourage or strict standards discourage economic growth. Marsden 2006. #HSUK2020 Feb 25, 2014
Aggregate statistical studies find only a very weak relationship between parking provision and economic vitality. Still and Simmonds 2000. Feb 25, 2014.

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