With the continuous growth of online retail, it comes as no surprise that the consumer approach to shopping is rapidly changing with events and leisure experiences firmly at the forefront of current trends. More than ever, purchasing items like clothes or gifts can be completed in quick, hassle-free transactions, leaving customers free to use their leisure time to seek out new experiences. You don’t have to look twice to realise the city centre has become much more led by leisure and dining.
According to marketing and data specialists CACI, leisure-dominated retail trips have increased by 28% over the past two years with food and beverage spend rising 15% between 2013 and 2016.
Adapting to the trend, Liverpool ONE has seen almost a third of its restaurant offer open within the last two years – each providing an opportunity for customers to enjoy the varied dining options they seek.
From the unique offerings of The Club House – a Hampton inspired beach club in the summer and festive lodge in winter, to the buzzing metropolitan of Hanover Street – home to the likes of Wahaca, Red’s True Barbecue and Roxy Ball Room; not forgetting newer additions such as Cosy Club and Yard & Coop. Dining is considered a much more habitual and accessible part of the retail experience, no longer reserved for special occasions.
Coupled with the likes of ‘food envy’ and FOMO, social media platforms such as Instagram, TripAdvisor and Facebook, only serve to further enhance the appeal of experience driven leisure time, with estimates that 82% of consumers (Neilson) trust peer recommendations over advertising.
With more and more people approaching shopping as a leisure activity, the move towards experience driven retail looks set to continue to grow; and integral to the success of retail destinations is their ability to offer something digital platforms are yet to achieve – that first-hand, face-to-food moment.
Similarly, the trend also has seen a rise in the number of themed restaurants and experience led concept stores, many of which are already open or set to join Liverpool ONE over the coming months.
Eagerly awaited to join the city’s retail and leisure line up in November, Heavenly Desserts feeds the enhanced experience consumers seek by serving up desserts only! From their Ferrero Rocher cookie dough to the aptly named ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’, the concept aims to attract those for which ‘pudding’ is an event in its own right.
But don’t be fooled into thinking retailers are sitting idly by, you only have to walk down South John Street to stumble across concept stores, such as LEGO, who provide interactive stations where children can create alongside specially trained ‘Brick Specialists’ and of course Apple a famously interactive, millennials playground.
Brands are taking notice and challenging their retailers to incorporate that extra special experience, from pop-up stores such as Mercedes and Porsche to Nepresso’s brand new boutique on Peter’s Lane – one of only four in the world, described as ‘a truly immersive coffee experience allowing for deeper learning and coffee exploration.’
Overall the trend represents a fantastic opportunity to reach customers and maximise loyalty in an entirely new way. In no way does the rise of leisure mean the decline of retail, further supported by the host of contemporary brands popping up in the city, from Guess and Molton Brown to the upscale of stores such as JD – set to re-open in the run up to Christmas.
The diversity of the city, from The Albert Dock to its museums, galleries, concerts and more has cemented Liverpool’s place as a destination day out – and retail is matching this trend.