Network Rail in festive retail surge, London Bridge is star with fashion, beauty stores key
As more and more people travel by train, retail at railway stations is growing and this week, the UK's Network Rail said that it has seen a 4.48% growth in sales at Britain's biggest and busiest stations. In its fiscal Q3, from October to December, like-for-like sales also rose, by 4.2%.
That's actually a massive increase compared to the falling, or only marginally higher, sales at many other retail locations. The BRC said the increase for the high street as a whole was 0.9% in the period. It puts railway stations in a similarly happy position to online retail and outlet centres as one of the star segments in an under-pressure UK retail sector.
Network Rail said that the final three months of last year were particularly strong for food and drink sales, but other categories also did well. Overall, sales reached more than £228 million.
Brands in the home and lifestyle categories saw strong growth (+5.9%), with the festive season driving convenience spending among busy passengers.
The increase came as the UK's largest railway stations saw their retail offer evolving from simply newsagents and food-to-go shops with a larger number of locations selling items such as beauty products and even fashion.
The rebuilt London Bridge station is a good example of this. The shopping area that now connects the railway station and the London underground station includes retailers such as Whistles, Accessorize, Boots, Cath Kidston, Oliver Bonas, Pandora, Ted Baker, TM Lewin, Rituals, and Kiehl’s.
Travellers wishing to go from the railway to the tube station are now forced to pass these shops and it's significant that Network Rail said London Bridge showed the highest total sales growth in the UK, with a rise of 48.2%.
Network Rail also said the Q3 figures came after a strong first half. Q1 sales in all its managed stations added up to £211 million and they were £215 million in Q2.
The locations it manages include the big London terminus stations, plus busy Clapham Junction and key stations in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Reading.
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