The City and Suburbs Retail Desires

The City and Suburbs Retail Desires

The suburbs can often be forgotten when it comes to choosing locations to shop or even considering a potential retail area for business, but ESA’s research into high streets in the London suburbs showed that they attract loyal customer’s spending money regularly who desire to have more of what the City High Streets are offering.

ESA interviewed consumers in Oxford Street as a benchmark; a major retail attraction in the heart of London and Europe's busiest shopping street with over 300 shops.

In order to make a comparison, two suburban locations were selected - Ealing High Street and St Albans High Street.

  • St Albans is a historic market town and is now a dormitory town within the London commuter belt and the Greater London built-up area.
  • Ealing is a London Borough in west London, England, and forms part of Outer London. It is the 3rd largest London Borough in population, which covers part of west London and a small part of North West London. Its administrative centre is Ealing Broadway.

What we did

ESA’s observation team undertook customer interviews based on a set questionnaire, footfall counts and the number of people walking into stores for each location over a period of three days; Wednesday 14th February 2017, Friday 16th February 2017 and Saturday 17th February 2017. Across the three locations 552 consumers were interviewed.

Peel off

A variety of store types were observed across the three locations, one being Boots. The comparison figures for each day showed that St Albans attracted more people through the door per hour compared to Oxford Street.

Spend vs Frequency & Retailers

ESA asked shoppers how much each individual had spent/were likely to spend and how frequently they shopped in the area.

  •  St Albans and Ealing attracted more frequent/regular spenders than it did in Oxford Street. When comparing average spend, the amounts are reasonably close in all three locations.

 Desired Operators/Retailers

  • The majority of people in Oxford Street chose the area to shop at Clothing/ Footwear/ Accessories stores however their desire was the opposite to St Albans and Ealing. A location blessed with Clothing and Department stores seemed to lack grocery store options with 36% of people wanting more choice. The top 5 retailers mentioned by people were Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Card Factory, Waitrose, and Wetherspoons. Discount stores were also mentioned by 14% of people as there are none on Oxford Street.
  • Consumers in St Albans were using Grocery stores regularly but 28% of shoppers wanted more Clothing and Department stores in the area. From the 28% desiring more Clothing and Department stores, a high percentage of shoppers measuring at 19% mentioned that they would like to see a John Lewis in the area whilst the remaining mentioned Primark, Zara, Debenhams and Next.
  • In Ealing a whole range of stores were visited but again there was a lot of interest for more Clothing stores with results showing the highest percentage of 29%. Zara, John Lewis, Super dry and French Connection were all mentioned as desired stores for the area.

Types of Retailers who would benefit from each location

St Albans

Looking at what information was retracted from the interviews, Clothing Retailers and Department stores would be visited by shoppers in St Albans if they opened in the area. The fact that there were more frequent shoppers in St Albans, suggests that new retailers within this category would benefit from frequent spenders.



Ealing had a whole range of stores but the desired retailers were also Clothing stores. Again, in Ealing there were more frequent shoppers than there were in Oxford Street showing that if these retailers were in the area, frequent shoppers would spend at the stores. 



Oxford Street

The area is well known for shopping especially within Clothing operators. ESA found that majority of people visited the area for Clothing however there was perceived to be a lack of food convenience stores within the area which many people would like to see more of as well as Discount stores including the likes of Poundland and Poundworld.


 Read the full article via Estate Gazette magazine (subscription and login details required).

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