LONDON: Train stations in the UK are outperforming the high street in terms of sales growth and are set to be an important part of the marketing mix in the future, an industry figure has claimed.

Network Rail, the body that manages some of the country's major stations, reported like-for-like sales up 3.67% in the second quarter, a period when high street sales were down 0.1%.

Andrew Ledger, national business development at the company, said this showed how train stations could appeal to brands. "There are a billion people using our 18 stations and we are outperforming the high street on both retail and advertising," he told Marketing Week.

"We are focused on creating environments where our passengers can connect with engaging brands, who can in turn provide memorable experiences," he added.

Examples include auto brand Jaguar displaying one of its upmarket vehicles at London St Pancras and a Jurassic World film exhibit at London Waterloo.

The latter, claimed Ledger, was instrumental in the station achieving a 13% uplift in like-for-like sales in the second quarter while also generating a record number of tweets.

"One of the key observations I've made is that commuters are willing to spend more time and money at our stations if we get the marketing mix right," he said.

A cynic might argue that the time-money equation was less to do with the marketing mix and more to do with delays and cancellations and that commuters might be more appreciative of a better train service.

But Ledger insisted that "the experiences we've added … are making commuters a lot happier and more settled on their journeys, we have proof of that. We can add extra value to the experience."

And, from the retail point of view, he observed that stations were able to provide accurate footfall data to brands and would in future be able to offer wifi and heat mapping software to enable better understanding of how people shop at these locations.

"Train stations are becoming the sales rooms of the future and we are committed to working with brands who share our vision for unique interactive experiences," Ledger said.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff