The year has begun with a whirlwind of headlines on post Brexit retail, a continued spotlight on Mike Ashley as a prominent retail voice and bumper Christmas trading results for one of Britain’s longest established retailers, Selfridges & Co.

With so many mixed messages in our place related press, it’s hard to identify what areas we need to focus on in 2019 to build our places. This month, I take a look at some of the key growth trends I expect to gain momentum in 2019.

Faces make places

What can’t you get shopping on your laptop or phone screen? Physical interaction with another human being! In a digital world, shoppers are beginning to yearn for human interaction once more. They want to share a quick joke as they pick up dinner for the family. They want that sales person’s cheeky charm offensive as they talk themselves into buying the 42 inch plasma. Putting excellent personal service at the forefront of retail is a huge draw in getting feet through the shop door.

Sustainability speaks volumes

Shoppers are becoming increasingly educated and invested in how their consumerism impacts the planet. In some organic produce shops, it’s now almost a faux pas to bring in a plastic bag – reusable or not. For food and drink operators, single use plastics are being frowned upon. Likewise for local councils, recycling bins which allow materials to be separated are welcomed on our streets. Consumers need the businesses they support to share their sustainability values. Implementing environmentally conscious changes can help align our places with the people we want to support them.

Sustainable Places with an identity

As our councils and BIDs become ever savvy in creating destinations that people are drawn to through a point of difference, the need to discover a unique place identity is becoming more paramount. Dig out the local history records, what legacy does your place have that has shaped its identity over the years? It’s important to communicate those roots. Visitors want to be told a story, so proudly take them on that journey with you.

Harmonise your channels

For too long bricks and mortar retailers have feared the rise of online, and attempted to hold onto a business model which doesn’t complement the lives of today’s shopper. Be brave in utilising your social channels and website to drive footfall in store. Attract sales leads on the channels they are likely to research your brand, and maximise conversion potential. Consistency in brand messaging, merchandising and service is core across all channels. If your instagram feed is awe inspiring, make sure that’s how customers feel when they come through your doors.

Vintage shop

Data as a driver

2018 seen some of the biggest shake ups in consumer data usage we’ve seen in modern history, with the introduction of GDPR and Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. It’s left a retail landscape where consumers are more aware than ever of the value of their data. If consumers are willing to share it, they expect to be rewarded for doing so. So personalise offers, reward their loyalty and switch up your offering to meet their changing tastes. Also, don’t forget the power of the feedback form. Did they enjoy the xmas market this year? What could have improved their sales experience in store? Collate the data, extract the themes and evolve.

For a chat on implementing these place developments within your own placemaking strategy, please get in touch.