Stations are first stop for gifts and gadgets: King's Cross railway station - view from balcony

Tuesday 27 Sep 2016

Stations are first stop for gifts and gadgets



  • Network Rail publishes Q1 (financial year) retail sales report and announces new Head of Retail
  • Like-for-like sales have risen for 17th successive quarter

New retail sales results released today by Network Rail show that 204 million people passed through the company’s managed stations between April and June this year, comparable to the total population of Brazil (206.6 million).

Overall like-for-like sales for the quarter increased by 4.14%, more than eight times greater than the British Retail Consortium results for the same period, which were 0.5%. Almost one in three station users (64 million) visited Network Rail station retailers in the period, equivalent to the total population of the UK (64.6 million) and enough to fill Wembley Stadium over 700 times.

Food and beverage outlets in Network Rail’s managed stations are proving increasingly popular with sales rising by 6.1% overall compared to the same period last year. While traditional retail sales also continue to grow, increasing by 2.5%.

Sales at major stations in London (King’s Cross +8.7%), and across the country (Manchester +9.6% and Reading +10.2%) performed well, pointing to the ongoing changes in consumer shopping habits as more people look for central locations to meet, eat, shop and travel.

The like-for-like increase was also driven by three key growth areas in the second quarter of 2016. Year-on-year gifting purchases soared by 43.6%, suggesting stations are becoming a major destination for gifts on the go, whilst technology sales grew by 20.6%. Accessories completed the top three with 10.2% growth over the three-month period.

It is not just travellers buying more gifts, gadgets and jewellery that have helped Network Rail station retailers record a 17th consecutive quarter of sales growth. Alongside these strong figures for higher value purchases, were the daily journey type purchases, with visitors to stations around the UK buying the equivalent of 4.5 million cups of coffee.

To coincide with the release of these figures, Network Rail Property, the company’s commercial division, today announces the appointment of Daniel Charles as the organisation’s new Head of Retail. He will join in October from the Abu Dhabi Airports Company, where he was Head of Retail for almost two and a half years. Prior to this role he worked as a Senior Category Manager at Network Rail for seven years.

David Biggs, Network Rail’s managing director of property, said: “These figures show that the quality retail offering at Network Rail stations is driving strong customer traffic to the many shops, cafes and boutiques that stations now have to offer. That’s good news for shoppers and good news for passengers too. All profits from retail sales are reinvested back into the railway, helping fund the Railway Upgrade Plan.”




Notes to editors


  1. Our managed stations

National stations

London stations

Birmingham New Street

Cannon Street

Bristol Temple Meads

Charing Cross

Edinburgh Waverley


Glasgow Central

King’s Cross


London Bridge

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Street

Manchester Piccadilly



St Pancras International

(lower level)

Retail at St Pancras is managed by HS1





  1. The UK population is estimated to be around 64.6 million according to the latest ONS statistics.

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Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.

About the Railway Upgrade Plan

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:

  • longer, faster more frequent trains;
  • better, more reliable infrastructure; and
  • better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.

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