Design groups to cash in on retail boom years

RETAIL design groups look set to cash in as retailers prepare to enjoy the two-year boom on the UK’s high streets predicted by a new report.

The Retailing 2000 report, from Verdict Research, predicts a rise in retail sales of almost six per cent in 1997 and 1998 as retailers exploit a sustained upturn in consumer confidence. According to the report: “As retailers regain their confidence, so their appetites for more space will grow.”

It adds that a key to success will be “more focused retail branding”. Verdict’s senior retail analyst Richard Perks says: “The ultimate for any retailer is to develop a brand in its own right. Retailers will try and strengthen their brands – design input will be very important within that.”

Verdict predicts total store capacity will increase by more than 2 000 000m2 between now and 2000, as major centres like Bluewater Park, Cribbs Causeway and Trafford Park open their doors.

Even when the boom peters out around 1999, retail will continue to cash in, albeit with a more moderate rate of growth, predicts the report.

On-line shopping services will not pose any threat to the high street because too few consumers are plugged in and “the standard of service [is] nowhere near acceptable”, says the report.

This suggests the design of on-screen shopping must improve.

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