In its latest Retail Report, Forbes Magazine says that four trends will shape retail in 2022. Tony Quinn examines the report, comments on ‘the trends’ and looks at how shopping centres may be affected.

So, where do we go from here? Looking ahead, much of 2022 looks uncertain… so what are the gurus saying?

In its December 2021 Retail Report, Forbes magazine predicts four trends will shape retail in 2022; here they are:

1. The conscious consumer and the environment
The report states that 90% of customers are more concerned about sustainability than ever before. Consumers are increasingly opting for eco-friendlier products and will pay more for them. The report also says the onus in 2022 will be on brands and retailers, convincing customers that they are genuine about their green credentials. I believe this applies to centre owners as well. It’s now becoming common for suppliers to push their carbon neutral status as a fundamental sales pitch.

South Eveleigh, NSW
South Eveleigh, NSW

2. Social commerce

Social commerce is about meeting customers where they are and is not disruptive to their experience. Live streaming and the ability to instantly purchase a product on a streaming video you’re watching are at the forefront. It reminds me of those horrible sales and marketing shows on television in the middle of the day. According to Forbes, merchants selling live is projected to reach nearly US$224 billion by 2028. And according to Spotify, live selling apps have increased by 40% from the previous three months. Perhaps shopping centres should embrace this with an onsite TV studio upselling tenant products.

3. Hybrid retail
Nothing new here, but Forbes says in 2022, we should expect most shopping journeys to begin online. This is how I shop by starting my research online. Once I’ve found what I’m after, I head down to the nearest convenient location (physical store) to pick up my purchase. CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association says that more retailers are developing hybrid models connecting the internet to their physical store.

In today’s retail landscape, instore has become a sales channel that pairs with Instagram and TikTok. Online is no longer the enemy; it’s an essential part of any physical retail business.

Forbes also claims that for retailers, focusing on how to deliver a seamless, integrated and stress-free experience to their customers from the digital world to the physical is a top priority for 2022.

4. Loyalty
Loyalty is seen as the new frontier for growth. This is a no brainer, as anyone in business will tell you, it’s so much more cost-effective and simpler to leverage existing customers than trying to win over new ones. Engaging clients with more flexibility to manage their finances through a range of payment options, like buy-now-pay-later, is just one option. Harvey Norman has been doing this for years. Furthermore, tapping into customer’s desire to shop locally now will have to be laser-focused on retaining existing customers. Shoppers heading online to check stock in local physical stores has jumped four times their pre-pandemic levels and are staying there, says Forbes. How’s this going to pan out for your local centre?

I believe with travel still dodgy until at least the end of the year, eating out will jump back big time, as will entertainment, and this is borne out by the number of new venues springing up over the December-January period.

KitKat Chocolatory and Dessert Bar, Sydney
KitKat Chocolatory and Dessert Bar, Sydney

Customers have been stashing the cash and need some retail therapy. Centres offering a richer range of experiences locally by blending retail, music, dining and entertainment will come to the fore, says futurist Dr Richard Hames.

Of particular interest is the backfilling of space vacated by a tenant that’s fallen over during COVID or a reduced department store footprint. One such centre where a 2500m2 fruit and veg tenant departed is considered a ‘dark’ supermarket even though a major supermarket operator is adjacent – such are the sales available in the catchment.

Nestlé has created a KitKat Chocolatory and Dessert Bar in Sydney where there’s a train of desserts (think sushi train) and hot and cold chocolates and teas to be paired with amazing desserts. Who’d have thought you could do so much with the humble KitKat?

Urban farms are becoming a new focus in the environment and sustainability stakes with the likes of Acre Farm and Eatery atop the Burwood Brickworks in Melbourne. These spaces have become a new community connector with events, cooking schools, wedding venues and community volunteer programs on offer.

Burwood Brickworks, VIC
Burwood Brickworks, VIC

Mirvac at South Eveleigh in Sydney has Australia’s first Indigenous Urban food production farm on the rooftop of one of the buildings at its new technology and innovation hub. The farm brings to life a vision to celebrate South Eveleigh’s rich indigenous culture and heritage through an engaging and educational experience.

Workers, visitors and the local community will be encouraged to participate in workshops to learn about indigenous culture, native plants and tend the farm. There is also the opportunity to purchase produce from the farm with more than 30 native bushfoods to choose from.

South Eveleigh’s Community Garden
South Eveleigh’s Community Garden

Sydney now boasts 12 urban farms on rooftops or basements within a 2km radius of the city centre. Many retail centres are now embracing their rooftops as opportunities for solar farms and rainwater harvesting, lowering their need for reliance on utility companies.

Like Forbes magazine says, social consciousness is selling.

This article by Tony Quinn, Principal at Hames Sharley, was first published in SCN Vol. 40 No. 1, 2022 Big Guns edition.

Did you enjoy this article?