Station shopping trends point to changing consumer habits, Network Rail reports


Results released by Network Rail show that like-for-like retail sales for the period July–September 2016 in managed stations grew by 3.5%. This equates to total sales of over £166m, up from £160m in the same period last year.

Sales growth at Network Rail stations retailers was more than 17 times greater than the British Retail Consortium results for the same period, which showed like-for-like growth of 0.2%.

  • Nationally, coffee shops and ‘food on the go’ purchases showed the strongest growth with the equivalent of 4.8 million cups of coffee sold in the quarter.
  • Asian food outlets and grocery sales were also strong sector performers across Network Rail’s managed stations, with 10% and 6% growth recorded respectively.
  • Overall sales growth was strongest in London with King’s Cross (+13%) and Paddington (+9%) leading the way. Outside London, Manchester (+10%), Birmingham (+8%) and Glasgow (6%) also performed well.
  • The largest Network Rail managed stations by sales value were Waterloo (£27m), Liverpool Street (£23m) and Euston (£21m).
  • The number of people shopping at stations – as a percentage of total station visitors – remains strong and in line with the previous quarter at 31%.

Over the last five years, Network Rail’s ongoing investment at stations across the UK, including Birmingham New Street, King’s Cross, Glasgow Central and Manchester Piccadilly 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, Network Rail s investing in digital technology, recently launching a trial of free Wi-Fi at Euston station which aims to significantly improve the passenger experience.

David Biggs, Network Rail’s managing director of property, said: “The trend in our results reflect the changes in how consumers are choosing to shop. Busy commuters and other people who use our stations want to be able to shop at a time and place that works for them. And that is why the upgrades we’ve made and are continuing to make to stations across Britain are proving so popular.

“Station retail investment is improving stations for our customers, while crucially generating vital funds to reinvest back into the railway.”