What does the next decade hold for the future of retail?

By Myf Ryan, Chief Marketing Officer Europe and Group Director of Brand and Strategic Marketing Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

What does the future hold for retail? It’s the question on everyone’s lips as we enter a new decade.

The rapid growth of online, big data and personalisation, the expansion of the experience economy and the emergence of digital technologies have all had a profound impact on our industry. Right now, retailers in Europe are weathering the perfect storm of a volatile economic climate, uncertainty about trading laws and legislation, shifting attitudes towards sustainability, falling consumer confidence levels and the emergence of new routes to market, from shoppable murals to connected technology.

So, what about the next 10 years? What are the trends driving what, where, when, how and why people engage with brands? How can retailers not only embrace change but take the lead in shaping this future? And what does all this mean for the physical and digital space – and the greater convergence of both?

These are questions at the very heart of our recently published ‘Westfield How We Shop: The Next Decade’ report. It explores the whole retail landscape, through the eyes of over 15,000 European consumers across 10 countries in Europe, to give an in-depth picture of the shifting retail arena. And it points to some seismic shifts on the horizon, with five key trends set to define retail in the next decade:

  • ANTI-PRESCRIPTION explores how shoppers will kick back against prescribed retail experiences.
  • UPSIDE-DOWN RETAIL predicts the entire retail model will turn on its head by 2025.
  • SELF-SUSTAINING STORES looks at how the consumer demand for more sustainable solutions will fundamentally change retail as we know it.
  • RETAIL SURGERY examines how retail choices of the future will be informed by more than a skin-deep understanding of the shopper.
  • LOCALLY-MORPHED reimagines the retail spaces of tomorrow as symbiotic community hubs.

Together, these trends point to a dynamic new era for retail, reflecting what European consumers have told us and how their shopping habits are morphing. It is a period of great transformation in which retailers have the chance to rip up the rule books of old and rid themselves of outdated ways of operating, in order to shape a far more efficient, effective and exciting future. A future that’s more attuned to changing consumer needs. A future that’s better for our planet. A future that will drive real growth to the bottom line, propelling the entire retail industry forward.

At Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, as we continue to roll out the Westfield brand across Europe in 2020, we are committed to ensuring that we understand consumers’ needs and help to drive the industry forward. Our ‘Westfield How We Shop: The Next Decade’ report has been created to prompt questions and make us all think about what is possible – and what consumers want – in this ever-evolving world of retail.

By revealing what the future holds in store, we hope it can help retailers better prepare for yet another era of significant change.

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