Re: Chasing the (Tourism) Dragon Haha, I absolutely hate to shop. On the occasion that I enter a store, I usually walk right out. For some reason, stores in NYC have decided that shoppers really enjoy listening to the sounds of BLASTING POP MUSIC while they browse. Well, if that's true, I must be in the minority... because those sounds send me right back out the door. But in general, there are so many other things I'd rather be doing in life, and in this city, than shop. So I'll buy the occasional piece of clothing online but am otherwise content with my black t-shirts and jeans. :)
Re: Chasing the (Tourism) Dragon Nicole - you can't stand shopping! You sound like my wife who buys online and chases value: she completely doesn't get brands but she will pay for real quality and then keep it forever.
Re: Chasing the (Tourism) Dragon Hi Simon. Good points here, and I love the "chalk and cheese" comparison. I actually can't stand Woodbury Commons, but I can't stand shopping in general.
We are actually at a crossroads when it comes to retail. The online shopping experience isn't ideal; and retail centers, outlets, malls, and destinations have yet to understand how to embrace digital technologies in a meaningful and useful way.
So if we're going to see more Bicester Village-type destinations, I'd love to see them built in a way that takes the future into consideration -- the free WiFi Rich notes in the blog is one way. Advanced techs that Burberry is deploying is an additional way. But to your point, Simon, it sounds like this is more than a retail destination, which will allow it to maintain its appeal.
Re: Chasing the (Tourism) Dragon Nicole I think you're wrong!
Bicester Village is a tourist destination that happens to be a shopping centre. People - lets be honest, it's women - visit once a year and spend a lot of time there, have a meal and a great day out. But Bicester is seriously special with a retail line-up that makes Bond Street look tired. Even as a man with a complete absence of fashion sense I can see the appeal. While there is a historic connection with Woodbury Common in New York in reality they are as alike as chalk and cheese.
Shopping centres either become destinations or convenience if they're going to succeed in my opinion. Most are neither.
The online fashion story isn't great. The problem is that when you post out the garment to the customer you don't know if you've actually sold it because it can return. So your stock sits in their house for a week or so before you know. Worse still is my wife who has been known to order an item is two sizes and three different colours - and still send the whole order back. Hard to make a profit on that basis.
My local town 30mi outside London is affluent but something odd is happening. Useful shops are closing in favour of ladies fashions and cafés. Few big names but far more than the local market can support so I assume its becoming a place for women from ten or twenty miles around to come on a weekday for a shop and a meal.
Re: Chasing the (Tourism) Dragon I'm really enjoying the discussion on this thread. I feel I've been swayed in every direction so far just by reading along! One concern I have about "more Bicester Villages" is whether the investment is going to be worth it in the long run as more and more buying gets done online. I get the appeal, of course, and that it's an attraction right now. But I don't know that big outlets are going to attract tourists in greater numbers going forward; rather, I think these numbers are likely to drop off.
Re: Chasing the (Tourism) Dragon I believe Bicester Village is Chiltern Railways largest destination by far such that it is upgrading the line into Bicester Town to make a direct connection to London Paddington. The existing route has notices in Chinese on the railway platforms. Many of the coaches you see are the shuttle buses running from the existing station.
Bicester, formerly a market town and home to an army garrison was dying. Bicester Village has transformed its economy and the planners have set it on a growth path with much new housing being built. The challenge for the tourist trade is to attract these new visitors to other parts of the country.
Re: Tourism and green credentials Hmmm.... seems like the retail scene is kind of focused on fashion. These kinds of places, including towns with "outlets," are starting to get a bit shopworn stateside. I'm thinking specifically of Manchester, Vermont, and Freeport, Maine. Perhaps it's important to keep an eye on changing demand and try to add retail stores that reflect the trends, before the shops are left empty.
Re: Chasing the (Tourism) Dragon I agree with the need to diversify, and trying to attract more visitors from China is part of that process. Britain is more set up to catering for visitors from Europe and the US, and so focusing on other areas can help us spread our net wider. I guess I want to make two points:
1) The UK doesn't have many Chinese visitors at the moment. There were 150,000 people from China who visited the UK last year from a total Chinese population of over 1,344,000,000, which works out as 0.0001%. If we can make changes to get that percentage up to even 0.0003%, that's a big benefit.
2) With the exception of airport expansion, the changes I'm talking about are relatively minor: providing a bit more luxury retail and tweaking hotel designs. Also, just because something is 'Chinese-friendly', that doesn't automatically make it less appealing to people from other countries. You're not going to put off visitors from another country by providing a lobby with good feng shui.
I totally agree that we need a broad tourism strategy. But I also think that, as part of that, it makes sense to focus a little more on people from an economic superpower that we have traditionally not served that well.
Re: Tourism and green credentials @Mary, its a good question, and there is the threat of being undermined by the 'if we dont do it our competitors will' argument, which is one of the fundamental problems in not agreeing new, binding climate change targets internationally.
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