Introduction

This report will give a summary of data obtained and analyzed thru 2016 with additional comparisons to previous studies and forecasts obtained thru the same period. This is the first known report of its kind seeking to collect and analyze online shopping behavioural data for Chrisp Street Market and the surrounding shopping area located within the Lansbury ward of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

In the future, a full study will be available that incorporates all facets of the design, development and implementation of the ChrispStreet.com website along with the accompanying derived shopping data. Furthermore, this data is used to supplement research and recommendations from other related studies in an attempt to identify opportunities leading to the design, modeling and implementation of new business ventures for the area.

This brief report is organized into the following structure:

1. Introduction

2. A Brief Context

3. Approach

4. Shopping Data Results

5. Brief Discussion

6. Conclusion

A Brief Context

There have been numerous studies conducted on behalf of Tower Hamlets that examine various factors related to retail trade in the borough. These studies predominantly focus on customer foot traffic based shopping habits in and around the district centres and street markets. The effects of internet shopping have no doubt impacted retail trade in not only Tower Hamlets, but across the UK and the world. We now see many high street retail businesses falling victim to a new consumer preference of shopping for better value and choices online. Due to an overall lower cost infrastructure and business model, online businesses have been squeezing product margins and in effect squeezing out those organizations which haven’t kept pace with this new digital trading reality.

These new trends, coupled with the consumers’ gradual normalization of in-home deliveries, make those companies unable to change to a modern information centred business model in danger of extinction. Of course this doesn’t mean retailers should immediately look to switch from their current brick-and-mortar model to a warehouse based online shop. However, it should be evident that without effectively using the resources and information so readily available today, chances of survival are dramatically reduced.

Data from ONS (Office of National Statistics) show that at the end of 2016, UK average weekly internet retail sales were approximately £985 million – an increase of more than 20% from 2015[1]. In addition, UK internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales has increased from 3.4% in 2007 to 12.5% and 14.7% in 2015 and 2016, respectively[2]. Experian Business Strategies (EBS) estimates that the overall market share of SFT (Special Forms of Trading comprises all non-store retail sales made via internet mail order, stalls and markets, door-to-door and telephone sales[3]) will increase from 13.4% in 2015 to 19% by 2025 due to increased mobile phone and digital technology adoption[4].

According to data derived from Experian and presented in the Town Centre Retail Capacity Study 2016 by Carter Jonas, estimated Chrisp Street SFT convenience[5] and comparison[6] goods expenditure for 2016 totaled approximately £16 million and is predicted to grow nearly 80% to £28.7 million by 2031[7]. The latest Tower Hamlets Annual Residents Survey in 2016 also estimates that in the Eastern geographic area of Tower Hamlets, 53% of residents use the internet for buying or selling[8]. Also, in the Town Centre Retail Capacity Study 2016, the most liked feature of Chrisp Street Market by shoppers was it close proximity to their home[4][9]. This suggests that shoppers will still continue to “walk and shop” even as estimates of internet use for adults in Tower Hamlets as a whole is around 87% which is higher than the UK national average of 85%[10].

On a positive note for traders at Chrisp Street Market, research by Carter Jonas also revealed that the vacancy rate is 6.71%, well below the 2016 UK national average of 11.17%. Also, according to data from The London Data Company (LDC), the average London retail vacancy rate is 7.4% which demonstrates that Chrisp Street Market is a healthy district centre. Due to the regeneration project underway, the overall future for traders at Chrisp Street Market seems favorable in light of the obvious headwinds for many other high street retailers.

Approach

To collect data, the online shopping directory ChrispStreet.com was designed, developed and implemented in March, 2015. Google Analytics was used to collect all user data and surfing behaviour. As traffic to the site steadily increased, identifiably trends began to develop that will be covered in the sections below and in future reports. All traffic data is aggregated and no personally identifiable information is collected as per the privacy policy which can be found at https://chrispstreet.com/privacy-policy/.

Shopping Data Results

A snapshot of the data shows that from 2015 to 2016:

  1. Users between the age of 25 to 34 visited the site and searched for information more than any other age group,
  2. Females visited and searched for information far more often than men,
  3. Mobile devices continued to be used more often than pc’s when accessing the website,
  4. The largest percentage of traffic and user searches started approximated 9AM and peaked around 4PM each day.
2016 Chrisp Street Market Online Shopping Traffic Behaviour Infographic

2016 Chrisp Street Market Online Shopping Traffic Behaviour Infographic

When searching for content on ChrispStreet.com, the top page requests were those related to:

  1. Health & Beauty (47%)
  2. Pets (22%)
  3. Apparel/Cleaners/Laundry Services (16%)
  4. Household (15%)

Percentages do not reflect the percentage of ALL page requests, only these top 4 groups.

Other usage and behavioural data derived (but not included in this report):

User interests by market segment which highlights the general browsing interests of online shoppers and information seekers at Chrisp Street Market,
The top keywords used by Google to find relevant content on the site. Provides insight into potential demand of products and services,
The typical time users spent browsing for information related to their topics of interest.

Brief Discussion

Data collected at ChrispStreet.com revealed that users interested in travel and employment opportunities are by far the most represented. This is consistent with Tower Hamlets Annual Residents’ Survey 2016 that shows that 29% of residents in the East of the borough cite jobs as a main concern, far more than the 15-17% from all other geographic areas[8]. Recommendations on the use of this information will be discussed in a future report.

In reviewing related retail services, The Town Centre Retail Capacity Study 2016 by Carter Jonas identified the success of  “click and collect” applications that allow customers to order a product online and pick it up in-store. If implemented correctly, this could be an effective tool for many of the traders and shops at the market. A form of implementation could even be carried out as part of the functionality of ChrispStreet.com. More on design and execution of this will be discussed in a future report.

The study also identified a demand for higher quality comparison goods reflected by the fact that 49% of the studies respondents regularly visit Westfield Stratford specifically for this purpose. This highlights potential opportunities for producing web applications and websites that can supply or service these types of goods. There are several business cases in the works along with corresponding business models that will be discussed in future reports.

Conclusion

The digital revolution underway has surely had an impact on Chrisp Street Market as well as all other district centres in London and the UK. The goals, as stated above, are to determine the general online demand and shopping trends for Chrisp Street Market as well as apply the findings to inform and implement viable business opportunities. If successful, the methodology used (which will be discussed in detail in a later report) can be applied to other district centres and retail zones.

 

Ken Favors: [email protected]

 

References

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/timeseries/je2j/drsi

[2] https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/timeseries/j4mc/drsi

[3] Special Forms of Trading (SFT) comprises all non-store retail sales made via the internet, mail order, stalls and markets, door-to-door and telephone sales. On-line sales by supermarkets, department stores and catalogue companies are also included in the data collected by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

[4] Carter Jonas, Town Centre Retail Capacity Study 2016: Final Draft Report, prepared on behalf of London Borough of Tower Hamlets, October 2016. Available at: http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/Documents/Planning-and-building-control/Strategic-Planning/Local-Plan/Evidence_base_2016_Local_Plan/Retail_Capacity_Study_Draft_Report_11_10_16_excl_Appx_13.compressed.pdf

[5] Convenience goods are everyday essential items including food, drinks, newspapers/magazines and confectionery.

[6] Comparison goods are items bought on a regular basis including clothing, footwear, household and recreational goods.

[7] Carter Jonas, Town Centre Retail Capacity Study 2016: Final Draft Report, prepared on behalf of London Borough of Tower Hamlets, October 2016.
Table 1B: Tower Hamlets Growth Model, Table 2: Revised Convenience Expenditure Per Capita FOrecasts, Table 3: Total Available convenience Goods Expenditure, Table 4: Revised Comaprison Goods Expenditure, Table 5: Total Available Comparison Goods Expenditure
2016 Convenience SFT + Comparison SFT = £432,558 + £15,614,959 = £16,047,517 (£16m)
2031 SFT Growth = £584,386 + £28,169,386.04 = £28,753,772.04 (£28.7m)

[8] Tower Hamlets Annual Residents’ Survey 2016. Available at: http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/Documents/Borough_statistics/ARS_views_by_area.pdf

[9] In the household survey conducted by Carter Jonas, Table 10.3, the most like features about the Chrisp Street District Centre were that (1) it was close to home (41.7%), (2) had a good range of non-food shops ,(23.3%) and it had a traditional feel (15.9%).

[10] Internet access and use: keys statistics. Research Briefing 2014-04, June 2014. Available at: http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/Documents/Borough_statistics/Digital_inclusion/Internet-access-and-use-statistics-2014-06-17.pdf

More Resources

Centre for Retail Research
http://www.retailresearch.org/

Euromonitor International
http://www.euromonitor.com/internet-retailing-in-the-united-kingdom/report

Experian Business Strategies
http://www.experian.co.uk/business-services/business-services.html

London Borough of Tower Hamlets
http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk
http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgnl/community_and_living/borough_statistics/Digital_inclusion.aspx

Office for National Statistics
https://www.ons.gov.uk/

Official Website of Mayor of London
https://www.london.gov.uk

Actions for High Streets and Learning from London’s High Streets, available at:
https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/gla_migrate_files_destination/GLA_180714_v2.pdf

The Local Data Company

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http://blog.localdatacompany.com/infographic-full-year-2016-retail-and-leisure-report

Twenga Solutions
https://www.twenga-solutions.com/en/insights/ecommerce-united-kingdom-facts-figures-2016/

UK’s Online Retail Association
https://www.imrg.org/