How We Shop Now: What’s Next?

Westfield calls on retailers to innovate or face losing out as shopping habits shift

 New industry report reveals five key trends that retailers can adopt to win with tomorrow’s shoppers  

Leading shopping centre operator Westfield has today launched ‘How We Shop Now: What’s Next?,a report which unveils the five key trends that will shape tomorrow’s retail industry.  The future retail report draws on interviews with leading experts over 13,000 people across the UK and USA to show how emerging consumer trends will shape future stores.  Based on the report findings, and after a challenging Christmas period for some stores, Westfield has encouraged bricks and mortar retailers to embrace these trends and respond to the rapidly-changing shopper needs.

Combined, the trends paint a picture of what the store of the future is likely to look like. It reveals that shoppers are looking to physical retailers to go beyond the transaction and provide richer experiences to the consumer.

Myf Ryan, Chief Marketing Officer, Westfield UK and Europe, commented:Fashion stores of tomorrow might look radically different – bringing shoppers through the doors to attend a vintage clothing club, rewarding them financially for recycling their old clothes, helping them pick a new outfit with virtual reality and then loaning it to them for a party at the weekend.

The five key future trends identified are:

Pay as you go retail: Consumers are already accustomed to the ‘sharing economy’, tapping into Uber for transport, and Airbnb for accommodation. People are increasingly interested in retailers adopting this trend:

  • One in five people in the UK are interested in renting from their favourite store; a figure that rises to one in three within London.
  • This trend is particularly strong among millennials for whom renting is the norm, with nearly half (46%) of 25-34 year olds interested in renting.
  • Exercise equipment topped the list of what people wanted to rent (19%), followed by cars (16%), consumer electronics (15%), bikes (14% and clothing (10%).
  • Around a fifth of UK shoppers who expressed an interest in renting would be willing to spend £200 or more per month on unlimited clothing rent subscriptions.

Classroom retail: Shoppers are increasingly seeing retail spaces not only as places to buy new things, but as classrooms where they can learn new skills and build social networks.

  • About a third of UK shoppers (35%) are interested in attending a lifestyle lesson or club at their favourite store.
  • Shoppers in the UK want health or fitness sessions first and foremost (27%), followed by inspiring learning sessions such as creative cookery (25%), expert sessions (20%) and then clubs (19%). UK shoppers have greater appetite than their American counterparts for digital up-skilling, with more than a sixth of Brits interested, compared with only 12% of Americans.

Lifestyle loyalty: There is a new consumer demand for loyalty schemes that reward good lifestyle choices rather than just monetary transactions.

  • A fifth of UK consumers have said that a lifestyle reward scheme would appeal.
  • They’d like to be rewarded by retailers for recycling (29%), exercising (20%), spending time with family (19%), getting enough sleep (14%), and charity volunteering (10%)
  • The youngest, 16-24 year old, audience in both the US and UK particularly crave rewards for having a work-life balance with time spent with loved ones (30%).

Enhanced assistance: The report predicts that virtual reality will become ubiquitous over the coming years, but shoppers increasingly want virtual reality technology to help bring in-store products closer to their everyday lives.

  • 41% of people in the UK would like to use new technologies, such as virtual reality headsets, to experience how products will look in their home.
  • A third (33%) agreed they would be interested in using virtual assistance to see how clothes would look on them.

Inside-out retail: All this time spent engaging with screens plays havoc with our body’s sensory system. A sensory retail experience is becoming increasingly important to consumers. We don’t just want to smell the flowers or hear birdsong in-store; we want to overload their senses with extraordinary experiences that re-awaken all of their senses, all at once.

  • All five senses were deemed to enhance the shopper experience. Vision and touch came out top, but just under a third of shoppers also identified smell and hearing.
  • Taste was also important to more than a fifth of shoppers (28%).
  • A massive share of UK shoppers said that touch and feel, and trial of the products, was a main benefit of physical stores (73%).

The report also looked at the time spent per fashion shopping trip and revealed that most Brits are efficient shoppers. Over half the UK population (53%) falls into the ‘efficient shopper’ group who spend 2 hours or less per shopping trip, compared to only 1 in 5 (18%) who spend a minimum of 3 hours per shopping trip. 20% of shoppers overall had used cashless payments, but a third among those who said they haven’t used cashless payments said they were likely to in the future (34%).

Myf Ryan added: “This is arguably the most exciting time in retailer history.  Retailers have to be brave and innovative, reacting to what shoppers will want in the future by offering genuine added value.  Adopting classes and creating a full sensory experience creates a retail environment that cannot be replicated online.”

 The full report explains each of these trends in detail, profiles the full research findings from the UK and USA, and includes opinions from retail leaders drawn from across the industry.  It is now available at