Editor: Liz Hamson’s ‘Reset or RIP for retail?’ leader is a stark reminder of the fight for survival that is raging on. Trying to find optimism, this may be a once- in-a-lifetime chance to press reset and totally rethink the way these places and assets work.
Of course, this is going to take some brave capital – however, hard times call for innovation and change.
We have long been promoting mixed-use development as part of the solution; it is vital to the success of places and creates a sustainable, place-led circular economy.
Homes bring residents; hotels bring guests; and co-working spaces bring new demographics. Each of these delivers a ready-made audience to surrounding retailers and amenities.
Never again should we see a high street with five retailers offering exactly the same thing – the mix and variety will be vital.
In the US, 75% of food halls were able to stay open during lockdowns by pivoting and resetting quickly, according to a Cushman & Wakefield report. Granted, Europe is a different market but it makes you think.
There is a tremendous opportunity for more integrated experiences in struggling buildings. Indeed, Tortilla founder Brandon Stephens is pioneering a new venture that will feature myriad uses, including food and beverage, to replace defunct department store sites.
Culture will have its place also. Museums, libraries and galleries are a modern-day illustration of how this multi-use flexibility can foster prosperity. Pre-pandemic, the rise of in-house coffee shops, hyper-local pop-up markets, community classes and evening events helped to capture a broader audience. Our high streets must now follow suit.
Companies such as Appear Here have proven that retail success doesn’t need to be aligned to the long-term, with short-term, experience-led pop-ups that can bring vitality.
Perhaps the focus here shouldn’t just be generating cash at the till – research has shown that positive in-person experiences directly translate to stronger online sales for brands.
The recovery is going to require pioneers to dig deep and frontload investment. However, I firmly believe that there is a potential for a brighter future by working together and that we will recover.
Jorge Beroiz, director, CallisonRTKL