With the onset of internet shopping and the subsequent pressure on physical stores to compete, the retail industry has seen a number of long-term trends emerge from this dichotomy.
One trend that's more hotly contested and trailblazing than others is the power of brands, and the pressure these brands are putting on retail developers to ensure that their interests are being represented. It's long been known that developers have held the majority of the decision-making power, allocating the last say in what takes place within their retail spaces largely to themselves.
From a design standpoint, the future will look like a mash-up of national retailers and unique local stores, harkening back to the duality of value and luxury. Retail's future will interlace together the very fundamentals of good design, where the driving point is on delivering greater convenience and a more fulfilling shopping experience.
Fundamental change, exacerbated by the internet, is affecting the retail industry. That's neither a surprise nor an understatement. This is exemplified by the growth in online shopping in the last several years and is projected to become even stronger in the years to come, particularly in Asian countries. This trend has created a certain amount of concern amongst shopping center developers due to the fear that traditional retail is under attack.
The rise of the internet has undoubtedly created a one side vs. the other mentality. But it's also provided real benefits to the retail industry. It's allowed brands to connect with customers in ways that were previously unavailable to them, creating a much greater proliferation of specialty retailers — retailers with a unique point of view but not necessarily a need for a tremendous amount of floor space — than ever before.
At the core, however, the shopping experience becomes paramount. The ability to enjoy all aspects of a day out — good food, a pleasant environment, and a selection of retail offers that are both comforting and surprising — is what matters to consumers. A trip to the mall must now be more than a necessity; it has to be fun, and somehow different than what's available online.