Kings Cross Station Concourse. (Network Rail Image)
Quarterly retail figures from Network Rail reveal total sales at the organisation’s 17 managed stations grew by 3.5% against the same period the previous year thanks to a positive Christmas for retailers. This is despite a difficult wider trading environment.
This total sales growth is more than three times larger than the wider retail industry which grew 1.1%* over the same period, but challenging trading conditions led to a small like-for-like sales growth of 0.08%.
Between October and December 2017 the retail industry reported the lowest non-food growth figures since March 2009, with shoppers sticking to essential items as inflation outpaces income growth. Online shopping also impacted the quarter, leading to a tough environment for retailers.
Despite this over 66 million people – more than the entire population of the UK – visited a retail outlet in a managed station between October and December spending almost £206m, with the festive season causing retail sales to spike in the gifting (+9%) and stationery (+6%) categories.
Once again there was a direct link between Network Rail’s investment in stations and an increase in sales and satisfaction. Four of the top five stations for total sales growth have seen significant recent investment, with Paddington (44%) London Bridge (40%), King’s Cross (11%) and Birmingham New Street (11%) appearing in a top five that also includes Cannon Street (12%).
Elsewhere there was also total sales growth at Manchester Piccadilly (6%), Bristol Temple Meads (6%) and in Scotland – where sales at Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central grew by 7% and 3% respectively.
Customer satisfaction has also risen in stations that have seen investment, with recent significant rises in Paddington and London Bridge.
David Biggs, Managing Director of Network Rail Property, said:
All profits from Network Rail retail activities are reinvested back in to the railway and plans are well underway for a programme of retail enhancement in 2018, focussing on London Bridge and London Victoria.
Our managed stations
*This is an illustrative comparison only. The BRC comparison provides a snapshot of the retail industry, we are not comparing like-for-like.