RICS study forecasts retail design exodus

Commercial design opportunities for the retail industry will move away from the high street and on to the Internet, according to a new report.

Published by the newly-launched Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Research Foundation, the study was commissioned to predict patterns of future lifestyles.

The foundation, dedicated to informing decision-makers by forecasting trends in built and natural environments, is aimed at Government, education, non-profit and private sectors. By remaining an independent charity, it hopes to offer a radical approach to research.

In its report, 20:20 Visions of the Future, the foundation has studied “key areas of concern” representing work, transport, housing, shopping, leisure and the countryside.

For each topic it outlines three scenarios of the future, according to different premises.

On the subject of retail, one vision depicts a population with little need to travel to work or to the shops. “Travel becomes the exception rather than the norm, though once at leisure destinations, retail facilities are used as a key part of the leisure mix,” says the report.

It goes on to say that this will impact on built environments, which will need to be rewired for electronic systems, and see leisure organisations redesigning their offers simply to motivate people to get out of the house.

A worst case scenario outlined by the report is a country divided by wealth with futuristic, privately-owned shopping centres selecting privileged customers.

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