We are constantly discussing with our clients the grim outlook for retail that is presented in the media, as we relay their thoughts and reflections to the press. From all these discussions, one comment has stood out to me in particular. While our client Annelie Gullström, Head of Business Development for AMF Fastigheter, was taking a group of journalists around one of their retail spaces in Stockholm, she said, ‘This is not the end of retail, just the end to retail as we know it.’ This feels like the most accurate statement I have heard recently about the sector. It is easy to feel from the press like we will wake up tomorrow to find no more high street shops or department stores; in truth, it’s an exciting time for retail.
As an industry, we have the opportunity to shape a future for retail that appeals more to customers. This is a not to be negative, but to create the conditions for business to evolve. Our clients understand this, and have great ideas about alternative uses on the high street. Neil Hockin from Lunson Mitchenall was only last week quoted in Property Week about the opportunities for flexible and pop-up spaces in previous BHS units, and it is this sort of creative thinking that feeds better news.
Pop-up spaces are another example of taking advantage of challenging conditions. Only the other day in the office we were discussing our excitement about Market Halls opening in Victoria, with a new, flexible leisure offering in what should be an attractive, communal space. My friends and I like to go to a similar place, The Prince in Fulham, which has a central bar and four pop up restaurants. These allow restaurants to try out new food or concepts in a small, flexible space. I think that pop-up retail spaces will fast evolve in the same way, and this could become the new type of department store. All these spaces offer something different, trendy and ‘Instagrammable’ – vital for tech-savvy, socially-oriented young spenders.
I for one am excited to see retail continue to evolve, and find out what new ideas we are going to be able to experience.