Variety and vibrancy: evolving the retail experience

Variety and vibrancy: evolving the retail experience

The evolving experience of shopping needs new, authentic design responses not only to catch up with shoppers’ demands, but to remain adaptable enough for future change.

Often the spaces are there, but the places are not. Empty shop units are a common sight, but the long-term solution is not a simple case of replacing retail with like-for-like, but rather nurturing a sense of place and using this to inform the design.

With the right blend of insight, skill and experience, retail spaces can be redesigned and repurposed. We are currently doing this on several projects. Creative solutions are seeing leftover retail volume converted into cinemas, rock climbing, public services, workspace and even housing.

Contributing to the social need for housing, as we are doing in Woolwich for example, builds a community that will support the retail units in the same mixed-use scheme. By expertly blending uses, an ecosystem is created that nurtures the notion of neighbourhood, and strengthens the local identity.

We know that long-term value depends on strategic intervention.

With repurposing, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t necessarily work. Big Box retail is having to adapt and, subject to the same trends, these assets are not always so easily converted or repurposed.

We are proving with British Land, however, that bespoke interventions can give these large developments a sense of place rooted in the local community, breathing new life into assets.

Diversification is key. Variety and vibrancy are vital ingredients to add to the retail mix, enriching the customer experience, whilst personalising it. The expectation is already there; shoppers seek an experience that blends entertainment with learning, and memorable dining options with Instagram-worthy backdrops. Where better to undertake this than in a dynamic, sensory immersive 21st century market hall where people can meet, learn, explore and personalise their purchases. Can traditional retail valuation and leasing strategies adapt to embrace this?

Retail is shifting and morphing, but the outlook is good. Shoppers, tenants, landlords and developers want their communities to thrive.

Our retail studio, supported by a national network of offices and deep cross-sector expertise, is well placed to enable this; to ensure bricks and mortar has a strong foundation of place and community and has flexibility for the future.

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