The influence of Uplace on the surrounding city centers has been subject of public debate. To introduce an objective voice into this discussion, Uplace enlisted three external renowned research offices – RetailSonar, Cushman & Wakefield en Wes Research & Strategy. Their goal: to examine the influence of Uplace on surrounding shopping areas. They based their findings on the most recent figures of the Belgian Federal Research Office and the National Register.
The impact of Uplace has been investigated in the past, but these studies didn’t hold two important factors into account: the growth in population and in consumer spending. These two important and dynamic components demonstrate the growing shopping potential when it comes to consumers and market space. This study also integrated the unique character of Uplace opposed to traditional shoppingcenters, containing a combination of shopping and leisure. Below we mention the most prominent findings.
Nearly all shopping areas surrounding Uplace experience growth
The study concerning the impact of Uplace takes into account the population growth and the growth in consumer spending. It reveals that the region of Brussels and Flemish- and Walloon-Brabant (the immediate market of Uplace) will encounter an important increase in population growth between 2000 and 2030, with an expected growth of 600.000 extra inhabitants.
Pascal Steeland, retail coordinator at Wes Research & Strategy explains: “The expected population growth in the region of Brabant – Brussels creates every three years an extra shopping potential similar to the central shopping area of an average city center (for example Mechelen or Kortrijk). Uplace is situated in this market space.”
Another observation of the study reveals that the consumer spending rates will increase with 7,2% over a period of 10 years. This will generate a rise in turnover opposed to the year 2013 for most of the shopping areas, even after the opening of Uplace. This growth is noticeable in communities in the immediate vicinity such as Grimbergen (+2,55%), Meise (+6,00%) and Zaventem (+5,73%) as well as bigger city centers such as Aalst (+ 4,4%) or Leuven (+0,59%). Five years after the opening of Uplace (in the year 2023) almost all shopping areas face an even bigger increase in turnover. This is the case for communities such as Grimbergen (+8,13%), Meise (+12,64%) and Zaventem (+12%), and bigger city centers such as Aalst (+10,81%), Leuven (+5,94%) or Mechelen (+3,67%).
30% of all Uplace visitors are derived from traditional shopping malls
For the first time, the study considers the combination of shopping and leisure at Uplace. 34% of Uplace consists of leisure facilities, including a theater, cinema, spa and playground. With this combination Uplace is an innovative leisure destination and distinguishes itself from traditional shopping centers. According to the survey 30% of all visitors previously went shopping in traditional malls, such as Woluwe Shopping Centre, City 2 and Westland Shopping Center.
Bigger market and different kind of visitor due to combination of shopping and leisure
Uplace should be considered as a leisure destination: relaxing and exploring at Uplace is more important than targeted shopping. This has a significant impact on the behavior of visitors. The wide range of leisure activities offered at Uplace results in less frequent visits, because the threshold is higher than in other types of shopping such as retail streets and shops in the city. Visitors will come from farther away, resulting in a more geographical spread. Next to that, visitors will spend more time at Uplace, and consider visiting Uplace for a day trip with the whole family during weekends. Therefore the impact on the nearby shopping areas is lower than the impact caused by traditional shopping centers.
Uplace will reduce the drain of expenditures from Flanders to Brussels by 30%
Today there is a big transition of retail spending from Flanders to Brussels. For the Flemish region this encompasses about 640 million euros annually. 63.7% of all shoppers who will do their spending in Uplace did so previously in the Brussels region. The results from the study show that Uplace is a positive alternative to the Flemish consumer who is today shopping in Brussels and brings the balance back. Uplace will reduce this money transfer to Brussels with one third.
Consumers prefer a combination of shopping in cities, shopping malls, e-commerce and retail streets
Various retail channels respond to various shopping needs. The majority of everyday shopping will still take place in the city center, even after the arrival of Uplace. Uplace presents itself as a day trip, and is therefore competing especially with existing shopping centers and alternative day trips, such as amusement parks, the Ardennes, the zoo … Different type of shops will be present at Uplace compared to the city centers or retail streets. Consumers won’t go to Uplace for their fresh bread, but will continue to do so at the downtown bakery, with personal contact and service as the key ingredients. Those who want focused and functional shopping will get their needs fulfilled online or in retail streets. Visitors who are looking for a total experience in an innovative and inspiring place can head to Uplace. These different channels thrive in perfect harmony alongside each other and therefore ensure that the needs of consumers are met as efficiently as possible.
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