Today’s shopping malls have become a major tourist attraction in their own right, not only selling traditional high street brands, but also housing cinemas and even car showrooms!
The UK is home to a multitude of shopping centres, including one which has the biggest branch of Primark on the planet and another which has a 17-screen cinema, attracting thousands of people every week.
© suttonbaggies / Adobe Stock
Westfield, in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, opened in October 2008, at a cost of £1.6 billion. Thanks to a £600 million extension, announced in March 2018, it has overtaken Aviapark in Moscow, Russia, as the biggest shopping mall in the whole of Europe.
The expansion increases the size of the centre to 2.6 million square feet. It is opening in stages and includes a new John Lewis department store, spanning over four levels. Other retailers are opening bigger stores in the new area, including Ugg, H&M and Cath Kidston.
A new public events space, Westfield Square, surrounded by shops, a dining area and leisure outlets, opened in summer 2018. Westfield has a state-of-the-art, 17-screen Vue Cinema and its own Gymbox fitness club. It has an annual footfall of 27.3 million customers and retail sales of around £996 million.
Metrocentre, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
The UK’s second-largest shopping mall is the Metrocentre in Gateshead, which boasts more than 370 shops occupying 2.2 million square feet of floor space. Officially called the Intu Metrocentre, it opened on 28th April 1986.
It was built on a former industrial site near the Tyne River. Home to three major department stores (House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer and Debenhams), it has numerous fashion brands within the mall. There are also leisure facilities, such as a 12-screen Odeon cinema and the Namco Funscape indoor amusement arcade.
In 2015, it was Europe’s biggest shopping centre. If you walked past every shop front, you would have covered a distance of 3.5 miles. At peak times, there are up to 9,000 people working there. The centre has an annual footfall of 20 million customers and research shows the average shopping time is two hours and five minutes.
Trafford Centre, Manchester
Now called the Intu Trafford Centre, the shopping mall was launched in 1998 and is now the third largest in the UK, with a market value of £1.9 billion. One of its focal points is the spacious food court, The Orient (the largest food court in Europe), which is shaped like a steamship in recognition of the nearby Manchester Ship Canal.
The centre attracts more than 35 million visitors each year. It also houses the UK’s biggest cinema, where 28,500 visitors watch movies every week. There are more than 11,500 car parking spaces. The total retail area is 185,000 square metres, with an additional 30,193 square metres of leisure and dining facilities.
Bluewater, Stone, Kent
Bluewater Shopping Centre is an out-of-town shopping mall, 28.6km from the centre of London. It was launched in March 1999 and occupies an area of 155,700 square metres, making it the UK’s fourth largest mall. It is built in a triangular shape and houses 330 retail stores, a 13-screen cinema and 40 restaurants.
More than 7,000 employees work there and the mall attracts almost 27 million visitors annually. Bluewater has many popular food outlets under one roof, including KFC, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, Harry Ramsden’s, McDonald’s and a new Giraffe restaurant. It is also home to the Gravity Trampoline Park and a two-storey events venue.
Bluewater has one of the latest innovations in shopping malls: a car dealership. Hyundai at Bluewater has generated 260,000 visits – more footfall than the entire 158 Hyundai dealerships across the UK! This proves the brand’s theory that the mall premises enable them to tap into a new audience. This builds brand awareness and ultimately attracts new customers.
Although Birmingham’s mighty shopping mall only comes in at number 12 in terms of its 127,100 square metre floor area, it is notable because it’s home to the world’s largest Primark store. The Bullring was built in 2003, replacing its predecessor from the 1960s.
Despite only coming in at number 12 size-wise, The Bullring is the busiest mall in the UK, with a footfall of 36.5 million visitors annually. It is home to one of the UK’s four Selfridges department stores and includes the fourth largest Debenhams in the country.
The new Primark opened in The Bullring at the start of April 2019 and has been described as “five floors of shopping heaven”.
As well as stocking clothing for men, women and children, Primark offers free wi-fi and has a seated area with mobile phone chargers. Customers can also dine in the Disney café and play in the game zone, while there’s a dedicated Disney area full of clothes, toys and accessories.
Commercial Aluminium Shopfronts (CAS) supplies and installs high-quality shopfronts that are ideal for shopping malls. Please contact us for details of our products and services – go on, give us a call, we’d love to talk to you!