Network Rail station retail sales ‘continue to outperform the high street’

Network Rail has released station retail sales results for July to September 2011 showing a 3.85% growth in like for like sales, compared to the same time the previous year.

For the same period high street sales, as reported by the British Retail Consortium, grew by just 0.10%, showing that retail sales in stations continue to outperform the high street.

Results were slightly up on the previous quarter (April to June 2011), which recorded a 3.7% growth in like-for-like sales, compared to the same time the previous year.

These figures were compiled from the results of retailers operating from over 540,000 sq ft of retail space at 17 of Britain’s biggest and busiest stations owned and operated by Network Rail, benefiting from a combined annual footfall of over a billion.

Out of these stations, Gatwick Airport (+31.16%), Waterloo (+10.51%) and Birmingham New Street (+5.80%) achieved the best results of the period.

Food and beverage categories achieved the highest levels of growth, with bars reporting a growth of 10.40%, followed by specialist food retailers with 10.22% and restaurants with a 6.78% growth.

Network Rail has seen a host of new signings recently and December will see the opening of a new larger Boots at Waterloo Station spread over two floors.

A number of pubs will be re-branded, including the introduction of a real ale pub, The Beer House at Charing Cross.

In January, Mi Casa, a new Mexican restaurant, will be opening in Victoria station and at Liverpool St the old Food Court will be closing to introduce a new 4,500 sq ft ‘gastropub’ called ‘The Merchant of Bishopsgate’.

Next year, Network Rail will be launching nearly 50,000 sq ft of new retail space at King’s Cross and Waterloo stations.

Network Rail’s head of retail Gavin McKechnie said:

“Our figures continue to outperform the high street in this challenging economic climate thanks to investment in rail and growth in passenger numbers, providing retailers with a competitive trading environment in stations.

“During the current economic downturn our retailers, and food and beverage operators, are working especially hard to provide the right level of service and convenience to make our customers still want to use us as a first choice.

“We are always looking at new opportunities to improve the retail offer by creating more space and introducing a wider choice of brands to our stations.

“Next year we’ll be launching nearly 50,000 sq ft of new retail space at King’s Cross and Waterloo stations.

“We’re working with some exciting new retailers who are keen to benefit from the robust trading environment our stations offer and will be announcing the new brands at the beginning of next year.”

British Retail Consortium economist, Richard Lim, said:

“It’s encouraging that some parts of retailing continue to perform well even against the harsh consumer environment of falling disposable incomes.

“Undoubtedly, train stations are places of high footfall and these figures demonstrate that commuter and tourist numbers are critical to the sales performance of the limited range of goods typically sold in these locations.

“Fundamentally, consumer confidence is weak. Our latest figures show shopper numbers across shopping centres, retail parks and high streets declining at the fastest rate this year, reflecting consumers’ growing concerns about the economic recovery, job security and personal finances.”

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