The Future of Retail in Brighton & Hove & Beyond Brighton & Hove 2030 Vision: Our city, our future

On Tuesday 11th September Brighton & Hove Connected, in partnership with the Business Improvement District, Brilliant Brighton, hosted an event to explore what the future of retail may look like and how we can respond to ensure we prosper. Four key areas were presented on and discussed.

Current Retail Market in Brighton & Hove

Presented by Mark Buchanan-Smith - Centre Director, Churchill Square

Additional Points:

  • Brighton & Hove is very dependent on the visitor economy with a correlation between a rise in tourism and a rise in retail.
  • Retailers in Brighton & Hove perform above the national average.
  • Brighton & Hove has a very good independent retail offer.

Brighton Business Improvement District

Presented by Gavin Stewart - CEO, Brilliant Brighton

Additional Points:

  • There are now 570 businesses in the BID providing a budget of £315,000 per year.
  • The BID provides support to businesses above and beyond the business plan understanding that it is important to deliver what the businesses want.
  • 45% of BIDs across the UK have match funding from Local Authorities which helps to provide a much wider scope of projects.
  • A whole city BID has been looked at but it was concluded that doing this would provide a watered down offer to those businesses. There will be an opportunity to review the area involved in 2020/21.
  • Churchill Square are not directly part of the BID although they do contribute to it.

Current National Retail Market

Presented by Angus Stenhouse - Senior Portfolio Manager, Aberdeen Standard Investments

Additional Points:

  • Brighton & Hove has become a major player in the overseas retail market.
  • Retail needs to become about more than just shopping with a focus on place-making.
  • The sales growth that is occurring is online, however it is harder to achieve brand value if solely online and a lot of online retailers are now also moving onto the high street.
  • Since Brexi, Britain is being seen as a more costly and uncertain place to trade. European brands are rationalising the number of UK stores to have fewer larger stores in order to achieve economies of scale.
  • The expansion of Churchill Square aims to meet the need for a whole day out type of approach with a combined offer and marketing the city as a destination. Retailers in the Lanes and North Laine aren't targeted for Churchill Square as they are unique and there already appears to be a good cross-over of visitors going to both.
  • Concern that better infrastructure is required as the journey in and out of the city is difficult.
  • Brighton & Hove City Council is currently developing a new Visitor Economy Strategy and part of this is focused on handling destination management. This provides an opportunity to think about how Brighton & Hove is promoted as a destination and the role of getting the correct balance between areas.

The Future of Retail

Presented by Nick Butcher - Owner, Beyond Communications

Additional Points:

  • The mobile phone is fundamentally changing the way we live. Our short term memory is increasing due to the amount of things we look at on our phones in such a short space of time and we are able to shop all the time and wherever we are.
  • People are beginning to realise that there is life beyond the phone and retail environments can help facilitate this through the coming together of physical and digital which can provide a very rewarding experience.
  • The future of retail looks to be something that facilitates a frictionless, autonomus shopping experience; something like Amazon Go.
  • China are very far ahead with using a lot of the technology that we have yet to adopt.
  • Technology such as chat bots is becoming a growing market and more of a commodity so there are reducing barriers to entry for smaller retailers.
  • Shopping centres of the future will need to be more flexible and should have larger, more community-oriented space where groups of like-minded individuals can come together. Models in the north that provide a community space have been far less affected.
  • It is important to think about the environment around the building and stores in order to create a space that people want to be.
  • Infrastructure to facilitate advancements in retail, such as 5G technology, are vitally important.

The video below captures some of the thoughts and discussions from the event:


Created with images by Christian DeKnock - "Escalation" • diego_torres - "brighton promenade coast brighton brighton brighton brighton" • Darren Coleshill - "untitled image" • rawpixel - "untitled image" • Saketh Garuda - "Welcome to Future!"

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