For numerous years we have always pictured the centre of retail being the local City Centre, where typically you would find an expansive shopping centre and the large national and international multiple chain stores. A visit to a City Centre used to be an experience for the customer and as a result if you choose to drive into your local City Centre then you would have to expect to pay a premium for car parking.
However a combination of social, demographic and technological trends have conspired the bring about massive change in the retail market over the last 10 years. The main change has been the undoubted expansion in usage of the internet, we are now talking about 77% of the UK population having access to broadband in the UK and combine this with the fact that 93% of the UK population now have a mobile phone and the retailers really have a different technology driven customer.
It is interesting that such a change has been able to take place, given that the UK has an ageing population and one that on the face of it you would not be expecting to be the natural adopters of such technology changes. However statistics suggest that the number of "Silver Surfers" (term for the over 65's using the Internet) is one of the fastest growing user groups, yet despite this 5 million of this group still do not have or appear to wish to have access to the internet. It is this social attitude change to completing tasks online that has helped to drive interest in the internet. Only 5 years ago a large proportion of the UK had reservations about competing their shopping or banking online, as there were constant question marks over the security of the internet or that it was simply "just not right" to buy clothes without touching or seeing them in person. These changes though have brought about a real different retail environment that we see today.