Research shows that consumers gain most pleasure from the act of shopping, rather than from the outcome or purchase.  The idea of ‘shopping as leisure’ has defined many new retail developments such Cardiff’s new St David’s shopping centre and the Trinity shopping centre in Leeds (other retail experiences exist!). Could innovation be a way to help smaller retailers now that others have shown the way?

I had the pleasure of living in Cardiff when the St Davids centre opened and waited to see if it would sink or swim. The effect it had was to help the city climb up the UK retail index. At the time many smaller independent traders were uncertain as to whether this would put them out of business or act as a magnet to attract more customers for them.

A  recent study showed the impact on traders in the nearby Victorian market and arcades, with only 10% of the 90,000 people walking along the City’s High Street each week confirming that they visited the Castle Quarter arcades.

This poses the question – in today’s continually innovative retail market, should smaller, traditional retailers adapt their stores to the changed retail habits of today’s consumer? What can they do to make sure that consumers enjoy the experience, as well as the purchases that the independent traders are known for?

Where can retailers turn to for ideas and advice? Banks and Post Offices turned to theme parks for help in making queuing experiences less painful so maybe some alternative thinking would help?

Could a bookshop offer a great cup of coffee to fortify tired shoppers or keep hold of them for longer? Could the male barbershop be enhanced to pamper men in the same way as ladies hairdressers?


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