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« Retail Forecast: Minding the Retail Gap | Main | Brand Engagement: People and Passion, Part Two »

Retail Forecast: The Downsizing of Retail

The Retail Forecast blog series is an exercise in prognostication. Gensler’s retail designers from across the country explain the trends currently affecting how people shop and predict how these trends will play out in the near future.

As it turns out, retail is not immune to the “paradox of choice.”

My recent interactions with retailers (and the consumers they seek to serve) have illuminated a very interesting trend: People have become overwhelmed with the number of choices available to them, and they want retailers to narrow down the options for them.

Rather than traipse through a big box store filled with myriad potential selections, consumers want a curated selection. They are on the clock. They want to peruse specific collections that feature offerings from around the globe. They want an exclusive number of choices. They expect retailers to demonstrate expertise and to use that expertise to narrow down the number of products on display.

Retailers have gotten the message and have begun to downsize both their store sizes and collections. Walmart has launched a line of neighborhood convenience stores; Office Max has established a rock, paper, scissors store concept focused on smaller collections of products. These types of stores offer a limited selection of merchandise; they eliminate the unwanted proliferation of choice that consumers detest.

Of course, this shift in the consumer mindset has given designers more opportunities to rethink how smaller stores can present specific collections of merchandise in an engaging manner. That’s the challenge retail designers face today.

McEvoy Ranch. Image © Sherman Takata

Michael Bodziner is a leader of Gensler’s global retail practice and principal in our San Francisco office. Constantly researching retail’s interrelation with society, economy and human emotional response, Michael is an advocate for authentic experiences that enrich the lives of both consumers and retailers. As a convergent thinker, he incorporates lessons learned from Gensler’s hospitality, branding and entertainment practices to create holistic retail environments. Contact him at michael_bodziner@gensler.com.

Reader Comments (2)

Very interesting article- the point that customers expect retailers to demonstrate expertise is a very valid one. In any other industry we gravitate to and prefer the experts- it's time we did the same with any kind of shopping!
05.30.2014 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
Very interesting! I love the concept, but will this create "speciality"
stores"? Will the special kind of merchandise display make products more
expensive? Will this type of retail place offer store brands along with
national brands? It would be wonderful to shop and actually accomplish the
task without having to trapse over thousands of square feet in this almost
endless sea of "stuff" in which you are not interested. A village kind of shopping
experience based on
individual needs at affordable prices - now that's a concept!
Close to store easy access parking is also a factor.
Wouldn't you also need a way to recycle these
already massive stores? Sounds like job security for architects,
interior designers and realtors. Makes sense to me!
Thank you. I look forward to hearing more.
06.7.2014 | Unregistered CommenterM W Owen

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