On 21 March, Nick Hartwell, Director in the Shopping Centre leasing team, attended Revo Shopping Centre Management conference and spoke on one of the panels, “Evolution or Revolution”. The panel, which looked at key trends disrupting retail, focussed on the fundamental shifts in retail behaviour continuing to change the role of bricks and mortar assets in omnichannel sales strategies.
The discussion was centred on how consumers now have such a wide variety of channels to consume products and services that bricks and mortar shopping destinations must adapt or die. The advent of mixed use development and technology are major influencers on bricks and mortar shopping locations. Other speakers on the panel included Mat Colmer, Built Environment Specialist, Ricardo Varela, Omnifi, Jackie Tracey, New River Reit and Andy Davy, The Mall.
Working with some forward-looking landlords Nick is focused on bringing a much wider range of uses and services into centres to maintain occupancy and give shoppers more reasons to visit. Nick commented on the importance of repurposing redundant space sometimes away from retail to uses including offices / live work and leisure creating a mixture of occupiers co-habiting together. Nick also noted that shopping centres must contain a wider range of services encouraging shoppers to visit more frequently spending greater amounts of time and money.
Across the Lunson Mitchenall portfolio, the team is increasingly looking at re-purposing traditional retail space, often scheme anchors, in order to allow developments to evolve and survive in the digital age. This can involve leasing space to alternative uses away from traditional retail and leisure, including; offices, call centres, healthcare authorities, hotels and student accommodation. This broadens the spectrum of people visiting these locations and increases dwell time.
Nick pointed out that the retail sector has seen a seismic shift in consumer habits over the last 10 years and shopping as an activity continues to evolve rapidly through the use of technology. One of the most exciting and challenging developments is consumers having access to products and services through an ever increasing range of mediums. Whether this be through voice activated ordering, Augmented Reality make-up apps, drone delivery or motion activated ordering, this means that the future of retail is going to have to incorporate a wider range of functions and purpose in physical store design. The drive for customer fulfilment, shopper experience and brand immersion will make the future of bricks and mortar retail stores very exciting as the sector evolves faster than any other property type.