Watch: “Stronger” ESG considerations will shape out-of-town retail

4th October 2023 | Jack Oliver

“Stronger and stronger” ESG (environmental, social, and governance) considerations will shape the out-of-town retail market, said James Honeyman, partner at Quadrant Estates.

Whilst the retail market has “dabbled” in electric vehicle (EV) charging and PV (solar cells), larger scale ESG requirements will become an increasing trend, he told Completely Retail News executive editor Lisa Pilkington.

Speaking at the recent Completely Retail Marketplace event, Honeyman said that landlord-led scalable PV and the use of renewable energy on-site will be a feature of out-of-town destinations:

“We’ve seen a lot of brown-to-green potential for stranded assets in the world of office. Clearly yet we haven’t seen a lot of environmental considerations to that scale in retail, but I believe that is certainly going to be a future trend.”

Honeyman was joined by Paul Davis, founder of Nimbus Maps, who drew a comparison to the industrial market, in which he said the ESG agenda is “so hot”.

He added: “In the retail space, the occupiers aren’t quite so big, but that ESG agenda is going to start biting further down. It’s very obvious in a supershed market of just how much that trend has hit, and that clearly is coming to retail.”

The pair also discussed emerging trends and consumer behaviours which are affecting out-of-town developments.

Davis said: “The obvious one is EV. One in five cars new cars sold [are] electric”.

He also said that food and beverage (F&B) retail – particularly drive-through – is increasingly popular, citing operators such as Caffè Nero and Greggs. Davis said that for what is considered traditionally in-line retail, the idea of drive-throughs is becoming “a very big trend”.

Honeyman adds that because of the competition in the F&B industry for out-of-town from the likes of Black Sheep Coffee and Chaiiwala, a lot of operators are vying for space.

He said: “Getting space for quality drive-through sites is challenging, particularly on schemes. So that’s a very competitive market”

But he added that F&B market is “something that always does reset and needs freshening up from time-to-time”.

Completely Retail News also spoke to Johnny Rowland, head of out-of-town retail at Savills, who said that the biggest change in the market is the lack of vacant space in out-of-town retail compared to town centres.

Rowland said: “You’ve got very little space, and retailers love out-of-town floor space because you get 100% conversion rate from people going shopping there. You don’t go to a retail park just to browse, you’re going with a purpose to buy.”

Watch the full ‘Elevating Out-of-Town Appeal’ session above.


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