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Consumer Trends 2023: Retail property – navigating to a more 'human' world

16 January 2023

As we emerge into a post-Covid world, big questions remain about how physical retail will evolve to meet consumer needs. In addition to new locations becoming important, what role is there for creating unique experiences, landlord and tenant partnerships, data and commitment to sustainability?

For more than a decade, the retail property sector has faced accusations of "bricks and mortar is dead" but yet, the sector continues. 

Whilst we were not to know back in November that M&Co, with its 150+ stores, would go into administration in early December, it is not only retailers with physical stores that have suffered this year.

Members of our global retail real estate team spoke to retailers and leisure operators at MAPIC 2022 to uncover what trends they are seeing internationally.

The grey cloud that greeted MAPIC attendees on the first day of this 2022 conference was very much in contrast to the positivity and enthusiasm in the Palais des Festivals and the immediate surroundings. 

It was quite clear that the evolution of retail, and physical retail, needed to continue and MAPIC's theme of "People, Planet, Profit" played a part in all the conversations this year.

So what trends are we seeing?

  • Retailers must focus on lifestyle as opposed to merely retail – creating experiences which are unique, memorable and to continue to push the importance of the community created by brands in the cities.
  • A greater focus on landlord and tenant partnerships rather than merely relationships – can landlords change their expectations on rents in order to allow retailers to offer innovative experiences; can tenants share the cost of ensuring stores are more sustainable and environmental-friendly?
  • Data – all retailers are not only capturing data but actively using it to create experiences, such as age analysis or demographic and shopping habits.
  • More flexible regulation is required to ensure cities can react quicker to changing consumer habits.
  • The "15 minute city" – time is a valuable commodity to today's consumers, particularly the Gen Z/TikTok generation. Can retailers facilitate this through the shopping experience?
  • Shoppers genuinely care about sustainability – in a recent survey, 40% of consumers said they had stopped using a brand because of the way the brand behaved and 71% of consumers said they would stop using a brand if it put profit before people. Are people more adept at spotting greenwashing?

It is clear that retailers have to remain positive and enthusiastic throughout what will continue to be a challenging period but the inspirational and visionary people that the sector employs will ensure that it remains vibrant and, most importantly, relevant.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of these topics and what they mean for you and your business, please get in touch with our consumer sector and Real Estate experts. 

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