Editor's comment: Theatres of delight


Retail is evolving. It always has. That’s what makes it an exciting industry. The best stores are no longer receptacles for products, they are theatres of delight, writes Nicky Godding.


Increasingly, it seems, retailers don’t care where you buy, online or in-store, what matters is that you buy. They’re discovering the ‘halo’ effect: where online traffic to their website increases in the vicinity of their physical stores.

Die-hard on-line retailers are, surprise surprise, opening stores. But they’re pumping every technological gizmo into them to inspire and encourage customers to return again and again.

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Widen the scope from stores to shopping centres and city centres, and they’re doing it too. I’ve visited some stunning shopping centres in the last few months. From ECE’s Adigeo in Verona, Italy which opened earlier this year, to Westgate, Oxford in the UK, which opened in October. Both are designed to be relevant and inspirational, offering something unique to customers. Multi Poland is investing millions in its new Forum Gdansk. Due to open in 2018, this shopping centre will link two parts of this city which had previously been carved up by the railway.

All three of these cities have history in bucket loads – but until now didn’t have a shopping experience to match. These fantastic new retail centres also have more food and beverage concepts than ever before. Shoppers can literally stop for coffee, snacks, a fine dining experience or a café/bar every third store. But is the meteoric expansion of F&B in retail centres finally slowing?

Survival of the fittest
Some commentators think so, citing saturation in some shopping areas and voicing the view that only the best concepts will survive. Well, that’s survival of the fittest.

Talking about survival, how will London fare after Brexit? It seems that investors and developers continue to be bullish about the city’s future. Globally, London still ranks second only to Hong Kong and that’s set to continue, if a raft of research is to be believed. There are many new developments under construction across the capital, as our report reveals.

Spain struggled for years after 2007, but now it’s flying, according to our special report. But will the recent Catalonian catastrophe dampen investment? We look at Spain’s retail landscape.

Each issue of RetailWatch covers a different retail sector, and this time we’re focusing on athleisure, currently the fastest-growing retail sector in the world, we’re told. Traditional retail can learn a lot from how some of the challenger brands are marketing themselves. It’s about lifestyle, and aspiration.

I think this new age of shopping is exciting. Architects, designers, retailers and asset managers are finally looking from a customer perspective again. They want to create communities and encourage direct social interaction. And in an age of social media, where we can all buy anything we want from a small screen, for our fundamental human wellbeing – that has to be a good thing.