RETAIL RENAISSANCE Part 4: Sustainable, Local and Community Centric 24th May 2021
At the end of the Middle Ages in Western Europe, the Renaissance emerged as an opportunity for new knowledge, techniques, and icons. Leaders were those who pushed into uncharted territory, disrupted the status quo, and created a vibrant culture of creativity and experimentation. With the UK high street decline reaching a fever pitch, it is time for a change.
A radical new vision will be required to redefine the role that high streets play in our lives.
While the future remains uncertain, people still crave enjoyment more than ever. Our recent research across leisure, retail, wellbeing, and hospitality, heightens this sentiment. Changes in consumer behaviour combined with the impact of technology and the effects of the pandemic have also rapidly affected the speed of change. Below, we explore the issues behind this retail apocalypse and the emerging solutions.
Sustainable, Local and Community-Centric
A shift to more “sustainable and mindful consumption” is most certainly on the rise. Consumers are more mindful of what they’re buying, shopping more consciously and choosing more sustainable options. Consumers are becoming aware of the impact of global supply chains and their purchase power. Consequently, they are demanding greater transparency and holding themselves accountable for who they financially support, with 57% of consumers saying they will be more likely to spend money at a business that offers locally produced products (Deloitte, 2020).
In 2021, brands that have sustainable and socially conscious values will gain greater customer attention, with 80% of customers being more loyal to companies with good ethics (Salesforce, 2019). Supporting this thinking, one-third of consumers have convinced others to stop using a brand they felt was not acting appropriately in response to the pandemic (Edelman, 2020) – this shows the growing impact of brand purpose, values and associations.
We will see both independent and big brands emerge with innovative concepts and campaigns centred on these issues, especially due to changing consumer mindset towards value-based consumerism which put pressure brands to take action.
A perfect example is the community-led and open-air mall The Commons in Bangkok, Thailand; it aims to create an environment embedded in the local culture. Shoppers can spend quality time in the neighbourhood and feel a little closer to nature at the same time. The Commons features various green spaces with herb gardens, in which culinary workshops take place and a community garden that hosts daily morning yoga sessions. In addition to its many communal areas have a market-style eatery with artisan restaurants, bars, cafés, and a fitness studio.
Interestingly, a survey featured in the Independent in 2019 listed the most popular stores that UK customers want to see on the High Street as: Greengrocers, independent fashion stores, bakers, butchers and hardware/handyman stores. It shows that there was already a growing endorsement towards local stores that catered to community needs that has amplified during the lockdown restrictions, with people having to remain more local than ever before.
A survey in the Guardian this year suggesting the UK shift to local shopping could last beyond the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds of consumers in the UK have chosen to buy closer to home in the past year, with more than 9 in 10 people who have shopped locally say they will continue to do so, a survey by Barclaycard found
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