Christmas shoppers keep station retailers on track, Network Rail reports

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New results released today by Network Rail reveal that station retail sales for the festive period grew by 9.5% compared to last year, showing stations are becoming key destinations for last-minute gifts, supermarket shopping and pre-Christmas dining.

These figures come as the British Retail Consortium’s ‘Sales Monitor’ recorded a year-on-year sales increase of 1% for December.

Across the festive period (19 November to 24 December), 106 million people – more than one-and-a-half times the entire population of the UK – visited Network Rail’s stations, an increase of just under 10% on the same period last year. Almost one in three (32%) station visitors entered a retail outlet, and the increase in station retail purchases equates to total sales of over £83m during this busy period.

  • Food and drink outlets performed particularly well, with the top five outlets in stations recording an average of 50% growth over the period.
  • Retail outlets, driven by gift purchases, also performed well, growing by 24%. Station supermarket sales remained strong, growing by 4% over the festive period.
  • Overall Christmas sales increased most at Edinburgh Waverley (+41%), Birmingham New Street (+26%) and Leeds (+15%)
  • The top stations in London were Paddington (+13%), King’s Cross (+12%) and Euston (+10%)
  • 10 Network Rail managed stations recorded double-digit sales growth

The festive sales surge was also boosted by the opening of sector-leading outlets across Network Rail’s managed station portfolio. Recent high-profile additions include The Bookshop by WHSmith and Hema homewares shop at Euston, as well as Urban Decay cosmetics at King’s Cross and James Martin Kitchen at Manchester Piccadilly.

David Biggs, Network Rail’s managing director of property, said: “The quality and diversity of gifts, food and beverage options now available to station users is a direct result of station investment. Our major retail developments and strategy to bring in new and exciting retailers is helping us achieve our long term goal of improving the station experience for our customers, while crucially generating vital funds to reinvest back into the railway.”

Over the last five years, Network Rail’s ongoing investment at stations across Britain has helped deliver stations that are not just places to travel to and from, but destinations in their own right. This investment is continuing with retail enhancement projects well underway at London’s Liverpool Street, Paddington, Euston and London Bridge stations.

At the same time, the company is investing in digital technology, recently launching a trial of free Wi-Fi at Euston station which aims to significantly improve the passenger experience.