Retailers will allocate more store space to experiences than physical products by 2025 according to new research from shopping centre giant Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.
Westfield’s study, which polled 2000 UK consumers and 500 UK retailers, focused on the impact of the pandemic on the future of shopping, finding a range of trends which have been “turbo-charged” throughout 2020.
According to the report, one of the five key areas of change will be the significance placed on experiences, set to become the most important element of stores in the next five years.
Retailers will hit an “experience tipping point” by 2025, by which time more store square footage will be devoted to experiences than products, as 52 per cent of shoppers state they now crave in-store experiences.
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Other trends set to define the shape of the industry are an increasing focus on sustainability, set to drive both a surge in local shopping, more mindful online purchases and a significant boost in initiatives like rental services.
Westfield’s research suggests that 49 per cent of shoppers now want to buy locally sourced goods, leading 96 per cent of retailers to consider introducing community initiatives in 2021.
Meanwhile, the pandemic is set to drive the popularity of the “retail surgery market” which prescribes shoppers specific products for their personal health needs.
Health-conscious millennials are expected to drive the value of this industry to £40 billion per month in the UK alone, with 49 per cent stating they would be willing to share their DNA for a better shopping experience and 78 per cent of shoppers stating they would be interested in in-store health experiences.
“It was obvious long before Covid that the role of bricks and mortar retail in the consumer journey was changing, but lockdown and the ensuing restrictions that engulfed society finally forced both brands and consumers to question the necessity of stores,” head of Innovation Agency, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London Matthew Drinkwater said