Mintel: shoppers prefer flying visits, not queues

The Christmas shopping frenzy is already underway, but this season it seems time-pressed consumers may demand retail space that prioritises design efficiency above all else, according to the latest findings published by Mintel.

The Retail Store Design report reveals that over half of all UK shoppers aim to get away from stores as quickly as possible, with a mere 16 per cent claiming to enjoy shopping in general.

This may come as surprising news to a sector that reportedly ploughed over £1.7bn into shop fittings and interiors last year, in an attempt to boost the consumer retail experience. And while Mintel claims it is important for designers to continue to think outside the ‘white box’ shop idea – creating innovative spaces that reference heritage, culture and origins of goods – it says they must not sacrifice design basics. Consumers want retail design space with easy access, simple merchandise schemes, clear point-of-sale information and efficient checkouts, according to the research.

Richard Caines, senior retail consultant at Mintel, says, ‘Clearly shoppers are looking for efficient stores where they can find what they want, pay quickly and get away promptly.’

For example, clothes shoppers say they would sacrifice choice of stock for more space, with a fifth wanting more mirrors and four in ten demanding more changing rooms. When it comes to grocery shopping, 65 per cent of 45-to-54-year-olds complain about store makeovers, with many wanting less frequent changes to store layouts. Some 23 per cent said they would settle for a simpler store environment in return for more efficient shopping.

‘Retailers must make sure they get all the basics in place first before getting carried away with fancy designs. They must make the experience satisfying by getting rid of shopping frustrations, such as queuing and overcrowding,’ Caines adds.

‘It is about efficiency to the point of no excuses, in terms of design, easy customer flow and good stocks,’ says Ian Silverstein, managing director at Creative Action Design, which sits on the Bluewater shopping centre design roster.

But Silverstein thinks that bringing ‘theatre’ into the retail space is still a challenge for the sector and should not be ignored. ‘To move forward the retail proposition so that the creative design challenges the brief is important,’ he adds.

The report reveals that it is the younger consumer who will respond most to innovative retail space, with the majority of this group claiming to visit new or refitted clothes shops purely to see what they are like. Mintel recommends that designers create more space for shopping with friends: examples include areas to discuss purchases, refreshment zones and more seating.

Reviving interest from younger shoppers through innovation, while keeping the general consumer happy with efficiency, appears to be the primary design challenge for the industry.

Facts and figures

• 16 per cent of consumers view shopping as a pastime

• 57 per cent of consumers aim to get what they want, then get away from the retailer as quickly as possible

• 65 per cent of grocery shoppers, aged 45 to 54, complain about a changing grocery store layout

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