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From time to time we will post news articles and announcements relating to the firm and to various legal issues that may be of interest to you.

Changing retail habits: the end of an era for traditional shopping

Changing retail habits

The impact of COVID-19 has undoubtedly accelerated a shift in consumer behaviour towards online shopping. This increase has resulted in an unprecedented time for traditional shopping centres like Buchanan Galleries and the St Enoch Centre, with many shoppers now opting to do the majority of their shopping from the convenience of their own home.

The impact of COVID-19 has undoubtedly accelerated a shift in consumer behaviour towards online shopping. This increase has resulted in an unprecedented time for traditional shopping centres like Buchanan Galleries and the St Enoch Centre, with many shoppers now opting to do the majority of their shopping from the convenience of their own home.

Both flagship centres were part of the redevelopment of Buchanan Street throughout the 1990s, opening their doors to the public after being described as the future of retail. With the growing need to accommodate changing shopping patterns, it could be the end of an era for such traditional shopping models.

In January 2022, the proportion of retail sales online sat at 25.3% compared to 19.8% in February 2020. Whilst this statistic does illustrates a downward trend since its peak in February 2021 (36.5%), the percentage is still higher than pre-pandemic figures demonstrating the lasting economic impacts.

The owners of the St Enoch Centre have thus submitted plans to redevelop the shopping centre and created a mixed model space with residential units, a hotel and office space. The plan is still in its conceptual stages and is predicated to take between 15-20 years to conclude.

At the North end of Buchanan Street, plans are in motion to clear the site for another mixed model space with street facing hospitality, offices and accommodation. David Heaford, managing director of development at Landsec, the site developer said “our vision is to replace the existing shopping centre” with plans that would see the current structure demolished. The work is expected to take 10 years and begin as soon as 2023.

The Glasgow City Centre Taskforce (GCCT) is currently reviewing Argyle, Buchanan and Sauchiehall Streets – with the view that the change of retail trends and subsequent increase in vacant units indicates the need to adopt a progressive, mixed-use model in all town and city centres.

Glasgow City Council is now in negotiations with developers and already appear to be in agreement regarding their vision for the future of the city centre having made it clear that the vision aligned with their own plans for the city centre. Councillor Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “Glasgow, like town and city centres everywhere, is facing significant and accelerating structural changes. These initial proposals detail a response to those changes, ensuring Glasgow has a vibrant, successful and evolving city centre which continues to be the envy of our peers.” To read more please click here.

It is important to consider what the impact of such change will mean for Commercial Property. There is now greater emphasis on how Landlords can keep Tenants in this changing market. Such developments will generate important discussions regarding new leases, terminations and variations. Development will also open the doors for sales of new units and purchases of land for development.

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Amy Emmerson

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