Creating Tomorrow: how to lure customers back in-store

The retail trend we can all benefit from

On a call with Hong Kong this morning, one of my team asked how it was in the UK now things are “back to normal”. Sitting in my bedroom, which has served as my office since we went into lockdown, staring into my computer screen, wearing the same Uniqlo leggings I’ve more or less lived in over the same period, I had to confess that while the government might be easing restrictions, my life hasn’t changed whatsoever.

As I type this, the British prime minister is in parliament announcing plans to open pubs and restaurants in a few weeks’ time, but despite photographs across our news outlets of queues outside stores, what I’m hearing from those of you who work in retail is that we’re very far away from ‘back to normal’, or even the new normal so many have promised is on the horizon. (If you’ve spoken to anyone at WGSN recently, you’ll know we prefer to talk about the ‘next normal’ instead.)

So how are innovative brands hoping to tempt us back into stores, restaurants and the like?

What we’re seeing, and predicting more of in subsequent months, are retailers focusing on positive messaging in-store, the use of uplifting, invigorating colour palettes, and nostalgic or retro designs to provide a sense of comfort.

This isn’t because we all (read: me) have spent months living in our PJs and athleisure, but more that if we’re going to be lured back into public spaces, we want those spaces to provide a little joy as an escape from the bleak headlines about second waves and recessions.

Queues and face masks we can get used to. Restrictions on the use of changing rooms in clothes shops or menus in restaurants we’ll cope with. But if it can all be delivered with a smile and a sense of renewed hope in terms of design and, of course, service, then maybe even I will be lured out of my leggings and back into shops to replace them with something a little smarter.

All the best

Managing Director, WGSN

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