What is Retail?

11 Sep 19

So what really is retail now, what is the new shopping experience with your mum and gran? Driving to a retail park; getting a bus into a town centre; clicking online; going for coffee; afternoon drinks. It means different things to different people, but one thing is for certain it is continuing to evolve.

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Perhaps it is the nostalgic thought of Saturday morning shopping trips with my mum and gran which led me to working on so many retail schemes throughout my career, or maybe it’s simply because retail plays such a big part in the development sector. But whatever led me to this career path one thing is for certain, nostalgia is increasingly playing a leading role when it comes to the world of retail.

So what really is retail now, what is the new shopping experience with your mum and gran? Driving to a retail park; getting a bus into a town centre; clicking online; going for coffee; afternoon drinks. It means different things to different people, but one thing is for certain it is continuing to evolve.

As Iceni prepare to attend REVO 2019 in Liverpool we have been thinking about what it all means. REVO describes itself as the UK’s largest gathering of people and businesses that together create, deliver, operate and occupy great places to live, work, shop, eat and be entertained. In itself that sounds a lot more enticing than a Saturday morning traipsing from shop to shop to buy your new school kit.

Gone are the days when a beloved national retailer getting into trouble caused shock amongst us shoppers. It seems that we have now become used to hearing of yet another retailer failing to adapt successfully to the modern shopping world. Often we will feel sad, a nostalgic pang for our shopping days gone by, but ultimately our shopping habits are helping to drive this modern retail world – we are helping to shape the place.

Whilst names may change, ‘traditional’ retail is still alive and kicking, despite what we often hear in the press. One of our clients, Home Bargains continue to grow their presence in the UK and buck the trend. Along with the other so called ‘discounters’ they are now a mainstay of the shopping market in the UK; a reflection of the economic times some might say.

Even in the world of the ‘discounters’ there is change. There was a famous Glasgow store What Every Woman Wants in the 80s that is long since closed; the great and good of Glasgow would hide their WaWaas (it’s affectionate nickname) goods in another reputable store branded bag. Now that the majority of people have reusable bags this cause for embarrassment perhaps no longer exists, or maybe with the increasing love of a bargain (we all know people who proudly state how cheap their purchase was when complemented on it), there is no need to hide the origins of your purchase. One thing is for certain, people we’d suggest are more savvy with their £ and the brand above the door is less important – what’s on the shelves and the cost are what matters.

So, retail and the way we treat it is changing. Be that the brands we find on our high street, or even where we find the shops. But for us at Iceni this changing environment makes retail an exciting opportunity, not just a cause for a nostalgia trip; we’re certainly looking forward to getting our creative thinking caps on at REVO and seeing what possibilities lie ahead for my future shopping trips with the family.

Please contact Ian Anderson (ianderson@iceniprojects.com), David van der Lande (dlande@iceniprojects.com) or Ian Gallacher (igallacher@iceniprojects.com) if you would like to catch up at REVO.