Share:

The Phoenix Awakes: Retail & Leisure Trends In Europe

Yvonne Court • 22/06/2020

While a month ago, we looked to Asia for indications as to what to expect once Europe moved towards a post-covid ‘new normal’ in retail and leisure, there is now an increasing body of experience from across Europe from which to draw, as non-essential stores in UK re-open this week. Shopping and leisure habits and culture are more similar across Europe than arguably they are in Asia, where there remain huge variations between countries. It must be remembered though that the context and outcome still vary by country in Europe, largely dependent on the government’s approach to the dealing with the spread of the virus. Some countries have had very strict quarantines/lockdowns (Italy, Spain, Greece and France) and others have continued to operate pretty much business as usual (notably Sweden).  

The retail and leisure landscape across Europe has however seen much change in a relatively short period of time (see Figure 1). Just one month ago most of Europe’s non-essential retail, leisure and entertainment venues were closed, and had been for some time. Some were closed by decree and others in response to a dramatic decline in footfall, even in those markets which did not enter ‘lockdown’ as shown by the dark dots. 

european retail trends matrix post covid19

Fig 1

In early June the landscape is rather different as indicated by the array of bright blue dots for most countries. With the notable exception of the UK, Ireland and Russia, most countries had lifted many of the earlier restrictions. These have generally been lifted in a phased way. Most countries have seen first the re-opening of specific categories of stores e.g. DIY and garden centres, hair dressing salons, followed by the opening of other retail sectors. Some countries have stipulated size restrictions (e.g. initially in Germany it was only stores of under 800 sq m that could open); and in others it has varied by region of the country. There are only a few countries in Europe now where non-essential shops have not opened again, though the infection situation will be monitored, even where stores have re-opened. Compared to much of the rest of the world (see Figure 2) it could be argued that Europe is ahead in terms of having most of its non-essential retail open.  

european retail opening trends post covid-19

Fig 2

There are many guidelines surrounding how stores are to re-open including social distancing varying between one and two metres; opening hours restrictions, limitations on the number of people allowed in a store at a time, one-way systems in stores, wearing of face masks and increased use of hand sanitisers. There will also be restrictions on the use of changing rooms and handling of products, including quarantined returns. It remains to be seen how this will impact on consumer behaviour, though the visibility of such measures is likely to have a bearing on consumer confidence levels and by extension their willingness to shop. Consumer confidence will be critical to return to ‘normal’ albeit under a different guise to pre-covid. 

In most markets, shopping centres are in the later phases of lifting restrictions. In several countries, shopping centres have now re-opened or are in the process of opening again. Initially in France there were size restrictions, only shopping centres under 40,000 sqm could open, though almost all have now re-opened. 

Many food and beverage outlets/restaurants which are closed to in-house customers have been able to provide takeaway and home delivery services (a trend being observed globally - and one which could be a lifeline for many such operators, though this will not necessarily compensate for the loss of dine-in revenue). Some restaurants with outdoor seating on terraces etc. have been able to re-open subject to the necessary social distancing being applied.  

The impact on the future physical retail and leisure landscape remains to be seen, but it is likely to be very different from that seen before the COVID-19 pandemic. It is still too soon to assess the impact on footfall and sales, and both will take time to get back close to pre-covid levels. Anecdotal feedback is that there are improvements week on week both in terms of footfall and turnover. In most countries, footfall appears to be showing a decrease on the same period last year, though it is slowly improving and largely depends on the type of retail and leisure destination.  

The sectors that appear to be rebounding most quickly are out of town parks and outlets, likely because they are more open to the elements, as shown by preliminary findings of consumer surveys. Major city centres where tourism is a driver of footfall and spending are likely to recover more slowly until national borders are re-opened and travel restrictions are lifted.  

Across the retail and leisure sectors there will also be variations in the speed of recovery, as consumers decide how they spend their money and what has become more important to them. Again, anecdotally the retail categories that have performed well since opening are sports and electronics. The return to pre-covid sales levels among retailers with smaller stores is more of a challenge, because of the necessary social distancing measures, though conversion rates are anecdotally higher.  

Even as restrictions are lifted it could take time for people to go out again and shop in physical stores. Consumer behaviour has changed drastically and although online retail is likely to remain higher than pre-covid levels, the importance of physical retail is evident as countries begin to recover/rebound. It will take some time for consumers to get back to the same mindset that they once had just 3 months ago, but they will. We are facing a new normal, where the whole retail landscape has changed forever – even the definition of retail has evolved and is now less clear.  

Latest articles in this series

Leeds North Star cafe closure COVID-19
Insights • Economy

Outlook for 2021: Small Prizes and Big Penalties

Long-term property investors should focus on location and asset quality, as those factors drive performance over a cycle. But, right or wrong, risk aversion to income risk tends to trump other factors in downturns and will dictate pricing trends in 2021. 
Greg Mansell • 04/11/2020
Westminster Bridge towards Houses of Parliament, London
Insights • Economy

Brexit Trade Negotiations and What They Mean for Businesses

Like COVID-19, Brexit has major implications for businesses across the country whatever the outcome of the negotiations. 
Richard Coleman • 04/11/2020
Ship with shipping containers
Insights • Retail

Retail & Supply Chain

2021 will continue to see growth in e-commerce and logistics demand and new retail supply chain models will be required to capitalise on the structural shifts in the sector.
Paul Durkin • 04/11/2020
Woman doing yoga next to home desk
Insights • Commentary

Locked Down and Locked In

What will happen in 2021? Perhaps there will be a vaccine, perhaps there won’t. Perhaps people will return to the office, perhaps they won’t. The smarter questions focus on what adaptions business and people will make over the coming year that set them on a new path for the future.
Richard Pickering • 04/11/2020
Technology 3D (image)
Insights • Technology

The Impact of Technology on Real Estate

Technology has created huge changes to the property markets and real estate industry in 2020. We asked Chris Hancocks from our Futures team, and Ross Hodges from our Global Innovation Hub what they see as the proptech to watch in 2021. 

Chris Hancocks • 04/11/2020
George Roberts Cushman & Wakefield
Insights • Commentary

How 2021 Might Reshape The Real Estate Industry

We will look back at 2020 as the year in which COVID-19 accelerated forces of change. These forces will shape the industry for many years to come and for those that are able to interpret and take advantage of them, the opportunities are enormous. 
George Roberts • 04/11/2020
diners outside London pizza restaurant
Insights • Retail

Steps to Retail Recovery in Asia and Europe

Dr Yvonne Court looks at retail recovery in Asia and considers what European retailers can learn from the reopening of shops in the region.
Yvonne Court • 06/05/2020
Foodhallen, Rotterdam
Insights • Retail

Food Halls of Europe

The phenomenal rise of the food hall doesn't look set to slow down with over 100 already open across Europe. They offer lower rents for food and beverage operators and more choice for customers but what should landlords, shopping centre owners, managers and food vendors provide? Where should it go? And how much of it should there be? 
Yvonne Court • 16/11/2017
person drawing a chart in marker on glass
Insights • Investment

The EMEA Investor Update

An update on the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on real estate investment in EMEA. 
James Young • 25/11/2020
workers in coworking space blurred man walking past seated women
Research • Coworking

Coworking Trends

We outline the difference between the offers, along with market leading research on coworking trends across the world.
17/11/2020
George Roberts Cushman & Wakefield
Insights • Commentary

How 2021 Might Reshape The Real Estate Industry

We will look back at 2020 as the year in which COVID-19 accelerated forces of change. These forces will shape the industry for many years to come and for those that are able to interpret and take advantage of them, the opportunities are enormous. 
George Roberts • 04/11/2020
Ship with shipping containers
Insights • Retail

Retail & Supply Chain

2021 will continue to see growth in e-commerce and logistics demand and new retail supply chain models will be required to capitalise on the structural shifts in the sector.
Paul Durkin • 04/11/2020

Our Services

Retail and Leisure

A great retail proposition is only the beginning.

Learn More
Places

Urban places are the powerhouse of the UK economy, presenting both challenges and opportunities for those undertaking or planning property development and regeneration.

Learn More
Retail Leasing

With in-depth market knowledge spanning all types of retail property, our Retail Leasing team provides a tailored service to investors, developers, occupiers and public sector clients across the UK and Ireland.

Learn More

CAN'T FIND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR?

Get in touch with one of our professionals.