How are UK shopping centres engaging audiences now they are open for business?

Time for us to emerge from our COVID-19 cocoon and hit the shops? Recent Maybe* research told us that a whopping 90% of people were ready to brave two metres of socially distant queues to spend some cash, albeit with some hesitation. On June 15, retailers up and down the country got ready to serve once more. But what does this mean for UK shopping centres that play host to businesses and brands? And what do their engagement levels look like before and after lockdown? We’ve compared five UK shopping centres of different sizes across the country to tell us more.

Comparing UK shopping centres


Organisation Followers Posts on social channels Engagements on posts Average posts per day Average engagement on each post Average engagements per day. Includes likes, retweets and comments. Best performing posts
Westfield London 128.8K 63 5.1K 1.97 81.03 159.53 View
Intu Trafford Centre 240.4K 40 3.1K 1.25 77.43 96.78 View
Meadowhall 56.8K 37 1.8K 1.16 47.78 55.25 View
Vicar Lane 7K 213 581 6.66 2.73 18.16 View
The Howgate 15.1K 18 451 0.56 25.06 14.09 View

Reopening messages land the highest engagement

Westfield London leads the shopping centres out of the blocks with an Insta announcement confirming it was reopening, complete with all important social distancing and health and safety regulations clearly stated and a link for further information.

The post was the centre’s best performing one in terms of engagement during the period May 15 - June 21.


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Westfield London reopening drives the centres highest engagement in a month

Meanwhile in Chesterfield, Vicar Lane Shopping Centre’s most engaging message told a similar story. The centre got creative with its announcement post, though it lacked the same level of clarity surrounding regulations presented by Westfield.


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A post shared by Vicar Lane Shopping Centre (@vicarlaneshoppingcentre) on


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A post shared by Meadowhall (@lovemeadowhall) on

Sheffield’s Meadowhall Centre's reopening messages failed to make it to the top five of its best performing posts. Its lockdown messaging drove far more engagement for the Centre as it highlighted its brands' activity. While coming up a little short with its re-opening comms, the Centre did a great job of interacting with its tenants throughout lockdown.

Conversation and sentiment creeps back up

Through May, Westfield understandably saw lower volumes of interaction from customers and conversation about it. As the iconic destination re-opened, the volume of conversation and positive sentiment shot up.

The Maybe* how they feel report for Westfield London

In Manchester Selfridges’ sweet treat favourite, Borough 22, led the conversation about the Trafford Centre. But in the cases of both Westfield and the Trafford Centre, it was not shoppers that drove the increase in conversation, it was businesses and trade partners. Whether sentiment and conversation levels from actual shoppers will follow in the weeks ahead is yet to be seen.


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Why Maybe* for UK shopping centres

While everyone is feeling their way out of the dark, Maybe* is here to provide some vital clues as to what retail and shopping centres can expect. The Maybe* platform provides a social media engagement tool that helps you listen to topical conversations and manage your own social media communications and engagement and learn from others.

Whether you’re a UK shopping centre manager, an asset manager or a marketing manager, listen to the relevant social media conversations about your shopping centre or assets, and the locations that you are in. Listen to the conversations created by your tenants and retailers and understand how shoppers are feeling and behaving, so you can tailor your communications to meet their needs.

Key takeaway

UK shopping centres have made a good start and as these are 'unprecedented times' they’ll be finding their way just as shoppers will. Centres need to have a two-way dialogue with shoppers and their tenants. Nobody knows what to expect from the coming weeks and months, but regular and clear communication about swinging the doors wide open is as important as it was when they closed them. 

Maybe* is a collaborative social media management platform that provides engagement tools, actionable insights, reports and access to training that enables organisations to make social media work for them.

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