Somewhat in contrast to those decrying the ‘demise of the High Street’, it is great to see recently good positivity and leasing activity generated by concepts which are focussed on children and families. In addition to traditional toy and clothes retailers, we are also seeing concepts centred on kids’ entertainment or teaching, including nurseries, creches, tuition centres and even families’ members clubs. We have recently seen a flurry in requirements ranging in size from 1,500 sq ft up to 12,000 sq ft.
In our internet-era, curating reasons to visit a High Street or new development is vital, whether it is for activities, services or meeting up. By visiting and participating in social activities within a location, people interact and build communities and crucially, drive footfall to the neighbouring restaurants and retailers throughout the day and week.
A nursery or creche means morning and afternoon / evening footfall. Class based activities generate footfall throughout the day, from parent and baby classes to coding or English tuition after school.
At the weekend, parents are forever seeking places to escape the house and occupy children and until now, traditional, primary coloured soft play centres have held the monopoly for this, despite the fact that typically, parents do not enjoy their time spent there! Cue a collective sigh of relief from parents for the new wave of entertainment spaces, such as Kidz#1 at Dickens Yard, Ealing, which are the contemporary equivalent with a fresh design and areas designated and designed for parents too.
Brands such as Cupcake and Slice (Parsons Green) provide a community hub for parents and children. Through membership, parents can access creche facilities, classes, soft play but they can also head upstairs to the sister brand Slice for fitness classes whilst their children are safely cared for. This provides both a safe sanctuary for parents to relax with support around them, but also a place to meet new friends.
N Family Club and Kido are two nursery and creche brands also capitalising on the growing recognition by Landlords cottoning on to the value that these uses can bring as anchors to their Estate or developments. Well established occupiers like Kumon, Explore Learning and Code Ninjas are focussed on extra-curricular classes and generate regular footfall as classes are booked in advance.
By placing these sorts of operators into their locations, there is a real hope from the Landlord that retailers, restaurants and leisure activities can benefit from an overspill and additional driver to the area and certainly it is part of a pattern of more holistic letting approaches that our clients are taking in affluent ‘Village’ locations. For ‘place’ to thrive, especially in a new destination, the needs of the whole catchment need to be considered, even those of the very young!