retail values: time to kick the footfall around?

I spotted a group of excited ladies leaving a local bridal shop a few evenings ago. It had me thinking. No, not about getting married. About retail planning.

Congleton - a typical Cheshire town and the home of LANZen strategy!

My town has four bridal shops. But just how many shops does one town need?

Footfall’s too weak a metric. it doesn’t consider a shop’s purpose and utilisation.
Nor does it explain why some high streets can sustain so many takeaways.

Time to think about what people do rather than simply where they walk

A new social metric – Social Frequency

OK, my theory. Like all new theories, it should have a name. Let’s call it Social Frequency. Just remember where you heard it first!

Everything we do has a frequency. How often we do it, a social common or group action. Like eating three times a day, getting our haircut once a month, getting our teeth checked every six months, etc. I bet there’s a lot more, too.

Bringing population into the equation

OK, bring on the maths. Let’s factor-in just how many live in the town that’s being analysed. Let’s start with my home town, Congleton.

The town’s predominantly Group B and C with a small percentage of F and G. Low crime. The town suffers from a lack of commercial development, so its a bit of a dormitory town. People travel out of town to work, which could slew my metric. But let’s stick with it.

The population – the key component – is around 90,600 with 2000 more women than men. This will be broken down later.

My Social Metric theory equates an accepted social habit with local population group size. Scoring is a multiple of social group size and the social frequency of the service offered. This determines the business each shop could potentially see, not simply footsteps.

Two practical examples at each end of the scale

Let’s look at takeaways, for example. Let’s assume 60% of a group conforms to the norm. Congleton’s social group for takeaways is 22,000, so 60% of that is 13,200.

The Social Frequency for our takeaway is around twice a week, so 13,200 x 2 is 26,400. Therefore Congleton must make 26,400 visits to the takeaway each week!

At the other end of the scale, let’s look at our marriage habits and bridal shops.

Congleton’s bridal market social group is circa 25,000. Say 60% will use a bridal shop. That’s 15,000. But people don’t marry that often, maybe once in 20 years.

A Social Frequency occurring once in 20 years has an annual figure 1/20 of this… 3000.

…now divide 3,000 by 52, to get a weekly score in line with the previous example.

OK, so applying this criteria, Congleton would make 57 visits to a bridal shop each week!

How can we apply Social Frequency in practice?

As with any metric, Social Frequency should only be considered in the appropriate context. A takeaway needs to sell more than 57 meals a week to make a profit, but a bridal shop may be happy with 57 positive visits.

Social Frequency can’t determine viability, no more than footfall can. What it can measure far more accurately than footfall is the theoretical size of the market to be served.

And in an uncertain world, Social Frequency is a safer bet than the future of those girls coming out of that bridal shop.