The shopping centre has a chequered history. First, there was the Birmingham Bull Ring, the largest indoor shopping centre in Europe when it opened in May 1964. Then there was Britain’s first out-of-town shopping centre, London’s Brent Cross, which opened in 1976. And finally, Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, the first designer outlet village in Europe, opened in 1995. But each had its flaws, and when parking became problematic and high street brands started to falter, the shopping centre began to lose its shine.
But things are different now. A trip to the shops is no longer enough for the British public. We want good food, entertainment and plenty to keep the kids happy, which is where Peel Lifestyle Outlets excel.
‘We’re changing the world of outlet shopping and redefining perceptions of what an outlet can be, because we believe it needs to be done,’ says Jason Pullen, Managing Director of Peel Lifestyle Outlets, which owns own Gloucester Quays Outlet and Lowry Outlet at MediaCityUK, Manchester, as well as a new retail and leisure development in the making at Glasgow Harbour.
Whereas a traditional outlet may be 91% retail, a Peel Lifestyle Outlet is 36% retail, 27% leisure and 27% dining, enhancing customer experience by combining large-scale events and activities with the perfect fit of brands with a tailored dining and leisure offering.
‘Shopping is a major leisure activity,’ continues Jason. ‘People expect more from a centre than just background music, they want an experience. That’s why great brands and entertainment is an integral part of our appeal, from live fashion shows and music to celebrity chefs and cartoon characters.’
So what’s on at Gloucester Quays Outlet and Lowry Outlet this spring? Make a day trip to make the most of two weeks of fashion, events and adventure during their Springfest events. Head west to Gloucester Quays for the Adventure Zone in Orchard Square, running 8-23 April, which features a High Ropes Climbing Challenge, dark and thrilling Cave Adventure and Ninja Assault Course, plus lawn games for the little ones and plenty of room for parents to relax (open 7 days a week from 11am-5pm daily).
Shopping is a major leisure activity. People want an experience. That’s why great brands and entertainment is an integral part of our appeal
Later in the spring, the Orchard Street Market, which has developed a reputation for offering up delicious, locally sourced food and drink, artisan crafts, jewellery, homeware and seasonal goods, returns. Pop 29 April to Monday 1 May and 3-4 June in your diary.
In May, the award-winning Gloucester Tall Ships Festival returns, following a triumphant parade along the River Thames in London, to take over the city’s historic docks on Spring Bank Holiday (27-29 May). This will be the 10th anniversary of the incredibly popular festival, so expect a few surprises. As well as marvelling at the awe-inspiring ships, berthed right by the shopping centre, you can watch pirate sword fights, catch a sea shanty or two, try your hand at a variety of games, and enjoy plenty of food and drink.
And of course, there’s plenty of shopping to be done. With top name brands such as Osprey London, M&S Outlet, Phase Eight, Calvin Klein Jeans, Crew Clothing CO and, coming soon, Ted Baker London, offering up to 70% off, it’s the perfect way to get your spring-summer wardrobe in shape.
Why not try the Girl Next Door look this spring, pictured left, with the floral print dress by Lipsy London Loves Michelle Keegan (£27, reduced from £54 at Next Clearance)?
Team it with grey suede ankle boots from L.K.Bennett (£189, reduced from £275), and accessorised with a classic white and silver watch from Calvin Klein (£129, reduced from £185), stone pendant from Phase Eight (£23.20, reduced from £29), Osprey belt (£9.95, reduced from £35), and Osprey Aviators (£59, reduced from £85).
Whatever your spring look, why not head for Gloucester Quays Outlet and make a weekend of it?