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First Base is the equivalent of an 'Editorial'. It is the opportunity for S & A to provide comment and provoke discussion on topical issues relating to leisure and tourism. This will be provided each month and we would welcome your feedback on the matters raised.

First Base 2: Leisure retailing where's the future?

Date: 20/5/2004

At this year's TiLE Conference The Henley Centre published research findings that showed that a significant number of people now find shopping a pleasurable experience, even for everyday goods. In addition, they confirmed the trend, that has been rampant for the past three or four years, for retailing to become a fundamental part of the leisure experience. The emergence of factory outlets, designer outlets, and the centrality of retailing in visitor attractions is witness to this consumer desire to buy whilst enjoying a day out.

At this year's TiLE Conference The Henley Centre published research findings that showed that a significant number of people now find shopping a pleasurable experience, even for everyday goods. In addition, they confirmed the trend, that has been rampant for the past three or four years, for retailing to become a fundamental part of the leisure experience. The emergence of factory outlets, designer outlets, and the centrality of retailing in visitor attractions is witness to this consumer desire to buy whilst enjoying a day out.

Disney, of course, has exploited this notion for 30 years or so; Nike with the Niketown shopping concept have very successfully twisted the leisure:retailing paradigm around; whilst the new generation of Garden Centres have fully embraced the concept.

But where is this trend going? Will shopping environments mature at a pace that will mean they become surrogate attraction experiences? Will attractions replace their traditional product offers to become retail venues (as has been successfully achieved at Powerscourt in Ireland and at the Dartington Cider Mill in Devon)?

In our work for the International Sports Village in Cardiff (see our project page) we have defined an opportunity for sports retailing. What we have in mind are sports equipment and clothing outlets that combine sales space with activity space that allow you to try out the equipment before you purchase ... or try out a new sport before you kit yourself out to participate for real. In this way we have fashioned a kind of interactive leisure centre.

We would welcome your views as to the next stage in the leisure retailing continuum. Please send your ideas to info@stevensassoc.co.uk

Second Homes back on the agenda

Twenty years ago a rash of arson attacks on second homes across Wales (for which nobody has ever been convicted) raised the issue in certain parts of Government and in Tourist Boards across the UK. It was apparent that the highest densities of second homes were in rural areas with a long tradition of tourism. These same rural communities often faced a precarious economic future in terms of the viability of rural services and felt their indigenous culture to be at risk. More immediately was the fact that second home purchasers were pushing property prices out of reach of local people.

Calls for legislation were ignored. Planning authorities played only lip service to including policies to control or limit the extent of second homes within their areas, and it was left to market forces and changes in fashion to slow down the rate of growth of second home ownership.

The issue has now re-emerged. In parts of Gwynedd in North Wales two-thirds of properties are now second homes. In Tywyn, a resort near Harlech, 63.8% of the homes sold last year went as second homes to people from outside the local area. The economic imbalance across the UK and the resultant impact on the property markets has inevitably stimulated this activity.

The National Assembly for Wales is now considering how the planning laws can be used to help local authorities control this phenomenon. It is, however, an issue that goes beyond Wales and beyond rural communities. Striking the right socio-economic and cultural balance within a community is vital for sustainability. A fresh debate is needed to consider the second home issue in the light of current tourism and real estate trends.

Dr Terry Stevens

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First base archive

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    Christmas presented an opportunity to travel to Sydney to see first hand... more

  • First Base 2: Leisure retailing where's the future?
    At this year's TiLE Conference The Henley Centre published research findings that showed... more

  • First Base 1: "Breaking the camel's back...!"
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