2017 Review of the Year

20th December 2017

Trends came fast and furious in a blink-and-you’ll-miss it year for retail during 2017.

Perhaps the easiest to see was the continuing trend to upsize stores. Next, River Island, and JD Sports were just some of the big name retailers to commit to the big is best approach during 2017. A common approach has been to extend into adjacent stores to create bigger –and more impressive – stores that maximise their visual impact and branding opportunities.

Malls are growing too, with extension and refurbishments taking place at some of the UK’s largest shopping centres. While more, and bigger, stores are one result, it is the expansion of leisure facilities that is the key objective.

Cinemas, bowling alleys, indoor golf courses, climbing walls and trampoline parks are now a common sight, and this – coupled with the growth of giant fashion stores – is leading some to think that department stores are at risk of losing their anchor status in some malls.

Customer experience is a growing battleground for retailers keen to stand out from the crowd. Retail Design World has covered experiential initiatives from retailers such as Dreams, Snow + Rock, Virgin Travel, and Trailfinders over the course of 2017.

But traditional retailers are not alone in seeking to engage, entertain, educate and amuse customers. An increasing number of product brands are taking back control of their image – and their customer relationships – by opening their own stores.

Companies as diverse as fridge brand Smeg, watch brand Casio G-Shock, and audio brand Sonos have opened flagship stores, while coffee pod brand Nespresso has a growing chain of them.

Pop-ups – a growing trend for some years – have fully entered the mainstream, with brands of all shapes and sizes using them for strategic marketing, product launches and testing, profile building, and, from a consumer perspective, fun. Paper brand GF Smith, ice cream brand Wall’s, brewer Shepherd Neame and gifting brand Birchbox are just some of the pop-up players covered by Retail Design World over the year.

But perhaps the most significant trend could be one that started with pop-ups and become more permanent: formerly ‘pure play’ online retailers moving into physical stores at a pace.

This international trend has seen online brands such as Missguided, Sarah & Sebastian, Poorboy Boutique, Joe Browns, Ace & Tate, and Five Boys Clothing open physical stores – giving a shot in the arm to high streets and shopping centres, while also giving a fright to more traditional neighbouring stores.

Expect to see more online retailers moving into stores during 2018.