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Retailers still plan to open new stores in the year ahead despite the growth of online shopping

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Retailers plan to open more stores in 2016, despite the growth of online shopping, a new study has found. Eight in 10 (83%) of more than 150 international retail brands questioned in property company CBRE’s seventh annual How active are retailers globally? said their plans to open more stores would not be affected by the growth of ecommerce. Almost a third (29%) of the brands, from Europe, the Americans, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, said they planned to expand in the UK.

Some 17% of those questioned said they planned to open more than 40 stores, while 67% envisage up to 20 new stores. Western Europe was a priority target, with 35% set to expand in Germany, and 33% in France. Then 27% planned to open stores in China in 2016, while a quarter looked to the US as a retail destination.

Rather than providing an alternative to store shopping, CBRE suggests, ecommerce supports the physical channel – and vice versa.

Mark Disney, executive director of CBRE Shopping Centre Development & Leasing, said: “The evidence from major shopping centres and the strongest high streets supports the findings with increased investment in physical stores sitting alongside growing online sales.

“Demand from retailers is stronger than for several years with a substantial number of global brands looking to expand in strategic locations or upgrade their stores to improve customer experience and showcase their brand. This comes in the form of new sites or existing stores being enlarged or upgraded to include further lines or collaborations that retailers may be pursuing. The stores need to support the range that can be found online, and vice versa.”

High streets (76%) and regional shopping malls (72%) were cited as the most popular formats for expansion, while a fifth of brands, mainly from the Americas and EMEA, said they planned to expand into travel hubs in 2016 for access to high footfall, highly frequented locations.

Mark Burlton, global executive, retail occupier team, EMEA, at CBRE said: “Despite the backdrop of economic uncertainty and the popularity of online shopping growing year on year, a physical store presence in key locations is still critical to the strength of a brand’s presence.

“Stores still need to create an emotional affinity with a shopper and customers still feel a need to go into store, physically touch a product and enjoy the feel-good factor associated with a particular brand experience. The store is integral to the shopping journey and can be used in a number of different ways, such as to click and collect, research of the product or brand or to test the product. It isn’t solely about the transactional side.”

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