Wary Brits give giant shop complexes a miss whilst outdoor centres see sales soar


HALF of all Brits are unlikely to step foot in a shopping centre for at least 3 months according to new research. They are put off shopping by overcrowding (66%), long queues (55%) and the worry about social distancing (54%) since shops have begun reopening after lockdown.

According to a new study outdoor malls are set to become the future of shopping as almost half of Brits would prefer to shop in the fresh air, rather than in vast indoor centres like Bluewater in Kent, Lakeside in Essex, and Meadowhall in Sheffield.

The poll of 2,000 adults for outdoor shopping centre The Valley, in Evesham, Worcs, found that fresh air (61%), more space to keep to social distancing guidelines (50%), and wider walkways between shops (41%) are just some of the things that appeal to shoppers as we come out of lockdown.

In the first two weeks since most of their shops re-opened, The Valley has recorded 80% of footfall and 90% of total shopper spend compared with the same two weeks of last year, showing clear signs of recovery and how customers are looking ahead to the future of retail.

Phil Maclean, retail director for The Valley says: “It’s a positive story of recovery. We’ve had an impressive first two weeks, with people clearly choosing to shop in outdoor centres where they can get back to some normality whilst feeling safe.

Spend is high right across the board, from garden to cookware, fashion to bedding and jewellery to craft – it seems that the desire for physical shopping still burns brightly in many.

Our strong sales figures show the love for shopping in person is still very much alive and well. Outdoor centres can shape the ‘new normal’ of shopping. With plenty of space between shops, large outdoor spaces to take a break, free and easy parking plus good crowd management to avoid large queues and overcrowding. It’s easy to see why people prefer this environment to crowded city centre malls.”


While half of Brits might be cautious about returning to indoor shopping centres and with many shops struggling, it seems garden centres (35%) and DIY shops (29%) will see the most customers with Brits eager to spruce up their homes during their free time.


As the retail industry struggles in the wake of coronavirus, 61% of Brits say they worry about the future of shopping centres, with three quarters of them saying they worry more now than they did pre-lockdown.