Charity retail location – it all used to be so simple! Find a unit, ensure it had good customer flow, make sure parking was nearby to assist donations and if you could do all of that with reasonably low rents to pay, then you have the cherry on top also!
However, before the recent lockdown, we started to see a new trend whereby larger charity shops were being opened on retail parks, and there was good reason for this. Simply put, they make more profit. What is more, until recent years, the retail park owners have changed their stance on allowing charity shops to open at their site. There was a time not all that long ago where most simply just said no. And why wouldn’t they? They had a steady stream of potential retailers and eateries looking to expand and so the owners were in the comfortable position where they could happily decide who to let their units to in many retail parks.
Now this has all changed. Evolving consumer shopping habits had already seen an aggressive shift towards online sales even before the Covid-19 pandemic. The lockdown has served as an accelerant to the market which recently saw online sales peak at 32.8% of total retail sales in the UK. Whilst it would be remiss to ignore the fact this peak occurred at a time where bricks and mortar stores were closed, the habits people have now formed, the subscriptions people have now set up and the convenience people have now enjoyed all suggest that this peak isn’t going to disappear as rapidly as it was formed.
Source: Office for National Statistics https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/timeseries/j4mc/drsi
So do retail parks still offer the opportunities they were? The simple answer is yes
In fact, today the opportunities are far greater. Their size makes for far easier implementation of social distancing measures and the units themselves have much larger back areas making it easier to receive and sort donations. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for charity shops on retail parts to achieve profits of over £100,000 a year!
With the UK now seeing a worrying number of empty retail units and a reduced footfall in their high streets and community shopping areas, it really does start to beg the question; What is there not to like about retail parks?
Of course, it is essential the accessibility is right, its crucial the retail mix is good for you and your site selection becomes even more important (if you can find a unit nearby to a food or coffee shop, that has a massive advantage!)
But ultimately, the risks and costs may be higher – but so are the rewards of getting it right.