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It is always important to get feedback from customers and there have been considerable considerations and opinions put forward by shoppers in 2013. While shopping may not have been as big or as valuable in 2013 as some firms and businesses would have liked, there is no doubt that 2013 was another major year and consumers had plenty to say about the industry.

Digital media and shopping

Near the start of the year, there was a major focus on a report which was published by the UKTI. This report suggested that the United Kingdom was one of the most vibrant and most advanced digital media industry in all of Europe. This was based on the fact that out of the 52 million internet users in the United Kingdom, it has been reported that 8 out of 10 of these users have looked online or accessed online channels in a bid to save money in the previous six months.

Examples of this form of activity can come in comparing prices or making a purchase online after browsing in a store. There are plenty of ways that consumers can save money by looking and shopping online, and this has been one of the most important elements of the internet. The fact that the UK appears to be taking advantage of this sort of savings opportunity afforded by the internet is definitely something that is worth focusing on.

Another major topic that arose in the latter half of the year was the finding that more than 50% of shoppers in the North of London utilise their smartphone as an important part of their shopping time. It was also reported that more than 25% of North London shoppers utilised their phone for at least 3 shopping activities. There is no doubt that your smartphone can play a role in helping you to find bargains, value, the best offers and where to shop next so it is no surprise to see that many UK shoppers make sure that they have their smartphone with them when it comes to making the most of their time shopping.

Another major area that is of interest to many shoppers relates to the level of security that is found in shopping centres. A comparison was made to shopping centres in Israel, who carry out a review of all vehicles entering the park, having to enter into a shopping centre via an x-ray scanner and the use of patrols continually checking for any items which have been left unattended.

This information was then put to UK shoppers to see what sort of security level they would like to see in place at their local shopping areas. It turns out that the majority of UK shoppers believe that the UK has a good balance of security at the current time and that 66% of respondents believe that CCTV monitoring offers reassurance when shopping.

Influence of parking provision

The issue of parking space and provision will always be a factor and back in March, Kent shoppers were questioned on what they felt about the availability of parking space. Findings indicated that 60% of drivers were likely to choose where they shopped depending on how much parking space was available. This can be compared to a return of 15% which said they based their decision on where to shop by price.

Families in shopping centres

It was also found that shopping centres which provide a focus on helping families to shop and which offer family related activities and restaurants were more likely to be chosen as the destination to shop at compared to shopping centres which were not as familiar. It was found that wealthier families were happier with options such as cinemas and restaurants whereas customers who were not as wealthy favoured the chance to try out new sports and activities. No matter the difference in outlook, it is clear that families want shopping centres to offer more family related activities.

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Retail Therapy…

While the notion of retail therapy has never been an exact science, it turns out that research into shopping has uncovered the news that so many people have known for years.  Studies carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Michigan indicates that people are happier, less sad and feel they have a greater control of their life when they are shopping as opposed to browsing.

The study focused on three separate experiments to find out how people felt with respect to feeling in control and their emotions. It was found that shopping was more effective by a rate of 40 times in helping people to feel as though they are in control of a situation. The same research indicated that people felt three times less sad when they shopped as opposed to when they were merely browsing.

The findings of this research indicates that “retail therapy” should be taken a lot more seriously and that it could play a part in helping to feel less sad. Shoppers are found to be happier when they think about purchases that they have recently made with many of the respondents saying they are less likely to feel sad when they shop compared to how they feel before they leave to go on a shopping spree.

Up until recently, there had been no clarification or further study into whether the act of shopping was the factor for people feeling happy or it was related to the passing pf the time and the distraction from what made a person feel sad in the first place. The new study suggests that it is the shopping element, with the weighing up of options and making a decision over what to buy or not buy that has been the important factor in making a person feel happier about their buying decision.

Many people turn to shopping to feel better

Shopping has long been regarded as a way for people to take control and limit the impact of stress in their life.  It has sat alongside over-eating and drinking alcohol as a means of escape.  When questioned, the study group would, at a rate of two to one, associate the term “retail therapy” with a negative word or connotation as opposed to a positive one. This was from a group made up of men and women, so there was a broad spectrum of people responding in this manner.

In one study, women and men were split into browsers and choosers before being shown a range of products and were then asked to pick out four items. The studies showed that the people choosing believed that they were 79% in control as opposed to the browsers who stated that they only felt 2% in control. The browsers were also three times sadder than the people who were choosing.

In another experiment, men and women were divided into choosers and browsers before looking at 12 products, from slippers to headphones, and asked to select four. Results show that 79 per cent felt more in control while choosing, compared with 2 per cent of browsers. Choosers were also three times less sad.

This could be all the encouragement some folk need to hit the shops!

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It was noted in the business section of I yesterday that demand for UK shopping centres is almost back up to the boom-time levels of 2006 according to latest figures from property agent CBRE.  In 2013, £4.2 Billion worth of deals were completed which represents a rise of 81% in comparison to the previous year’s £2.3 Billion.  Malls in Peterborough, Solihull and Bath have all been bought despite the problems of empty shops and some retailers struggling across the UK.  In total 54 deals took place.

CBRE report the they expect this trend to continue in 2014 with over £700 million currently under offer and a further £850 million, approximately, on the market.

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Just a quick blog posting – the first one of the year!  Things are looking up for 2011 and we have some exciting events to bring you this year.  I will give some more details on that in the next couple of days.

The new centre marketing site is almost finished and will be launched next week.

Well thats our news over!  Here are a couple of interesting articles to read:

http://www.synovate.com/news/article/2011/01/expected-slow-burn-turned-into-a-deep-freeze-as-retail-footfall-suffers-in-december-says-synovate.html

http://gu.com/p/2mb5c

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Well for another year anyway!  Just posting a little thankyou to all Santas hardworking helpers, they have ensured another sucessful year for Centre Events and all our shopping centres we work with.

The reindeer are back at the farm, Santa’s suit and elves outfits are at the dry cleaners ready to be stored away for another year.  We have seen plenty of children and adults brave the worst weather for 30 years to come and see Santa and tell him how good they have all been! We have seen kids asking for all kinds of presents from a four year old who wanted an iPhone and an iMac through to a child who said they didnt want anything as they already had everything!!!

We hope to be providing bigger and better christmas grottos for 2011 and already have several ideas on the drawing board.

santa, elves and real reindeer

Santa and helpers available to hire for christmas events and grottos

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The sales start today!  Well unless you were shopping online in which case many retailers started yesterday!  With the disruption caused by snow across the country more retailers than we have previously seen are opening their doors today.  Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s are opening more stores than they have done in previous years with Tesco opening over 50% more stores than a year ago. Billed by retailers as the “sale of the century” we should see a very busy few hours of trading today(Sunday trading hours are in force today).  Shops should see a busy few days leading up to the 4th Jan when the new VAT threshold comes into play.  There has been much hyperbole in previous January sales but this year will see retailers trying to shift merchandise and from what has been advertised discounts seem big and significant.

 It seems the forthcoming days are going to prove very important to rack up sales.  The Centre for Retail Research and Yahoo owned shopping site Kelkoo has predicted a 0.5% drop on last year for consumer spending.

 Lets hope for busy times ahead and remember the British public love to grab a bargain – and there are plenty of them to grab!

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Centre events have been keeping an eye on the news the last few days…. Well more precisely the weather!  We have been fortunate that it has affected any of our events although we have been all leaving a little earlier.  Take a look at this report from the BBC, the UK has experienced some difficult trading this Xmas. 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12041080

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And snow it goes on….Freezing conditions across the country caused havoc to shoppers, shopping centres and town centres this Saturday.

The last Saturday before Christmas is known as “super Saturday”.  This is traditionally when retailers can bank on the tills ringing all day and record trading figures.  Its appears this year that it may not be quite so super for many retailers.

Snow, ice and freezing weather conditions have forced many shoppers to simply remain at home.  Retail researchers synovate have reported footfall figures are down 24.3% in comparison to the same day in 2009.

Worst affected regions are the west midlands -32.1%; South East -32%; London -28.6%.

Some regions faired  better: East Midlands, down 3.1%; North East England, down 3.2%; Scotland, down 4.2%.

Interestingly I did also hear on ITN news that Regent St, Oxford St and Bond St took £130million on the day, quite a feat considering the economic climate and harsh weather conditions.

Fortunes for shopping centres were mixed with Brent Cross in North London being forced to close its doors early due to heavy snow in the capital.

The Trafford centre battled hard by all accounts dispensing 20 tons of grit and salt to keep its doors open and report footfall of 140,000.

Shopping in general seems to more of a difficult activity this year!  Whether its trudging through arctic conditions to the shops or twiddling your thumbs wondering whether the backlog of parcels from online retailers will be delivered in time.

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After stomping through 20cms of snow this morning in a successful mission to reach the office I find myself reading emails and writing blogs….

I was saddened to see our local town centre initiative has had to cancel this evening’s late night shopping celebrations.  Santa, reindeer and carol singers have all been halted due to the sheer amount of snow that fell over night and the flurry which is expected later on.  Such a shame after all the planning and organisation that goes into these events which are laid on free for visitors, I am sure that many children although enjoying a day off school will miss their chance to see Santa and the fireworks that were planned for this evening.  Apparently the firework were scheduled to be launched from Worthing pier which is a first for the UK (so I am reliably informed)

I found it slightly ironic that this evening’s event was cancelled due to heavy snow and yet we have had a roar-away success this year with our snow machine rental business.  Town centres and shopping centres have been taking full advantage of our snow machine hire service and we have had some fun bring snow to many new towns!  The machines deliver the perfect amount of snow and unlike Mother Nature who has dumped way to much here today!

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As we have now got new blog software on our site we are going to update this one with some of the best blogs from our old one….  Just one or two though – not the whole lot!

Eddie the Eagle Edwards

Worthing Birdman competition was held on Worthing Pier on 14th August 2010 and this year Eddie “the eagle” is jumping for Sparks.  Eddie is a keen supporter for Sparks the childrens research charity and offered his unique expertise to raise the maximum for this worthy cause.

Centre-events were approached by Sparks to help make Eddie a super-hero style outfit to wear on the day….  We are always up for a challenge, so out came the sewing machine, a quick flick of the digital heatpress, a little bit of design and hey presto “Super Eddie” was born.

Eddie was the first competitor ever to represent Great Britain for Olympic Ski Jumping.  In 1988 he competed in the Carlgary Winter Olympic and although he finished last in the competition he went on to win the endearment of fans around the globe, releasing a single and appearing on adverts and talkshows!  Declan Lowney (Film Director) has been planning to make a film about Eddies life!  Actor Rupert Grint (of Harry Potter fame – incase you didnt know!) is to play Eddie, and filming should start when Rupert has finished filming the last Harry Potter film!

Eddie managed to jump 7.52 metres before ending up in the English Channel! Not bad considering he was wearing skis, boots, googles, hat etc.  We were worried the boots might make him sink to the bottom!

He ensured an excellent turnout for the annnual event held in Worthing and everyone involved was grateful for his support.