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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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