Retail Forecast: Reflecting on Retail Design 2023

Retail Design 2023: A Reflection

Reflecting on the trends we predicted…

As we hurtle towards the end of 2023, there are numerous comments on what the future holds. But before we dive into our thoughts on 2024 retail, we thought it was important to assess our previous predictions for the year we’re about to leave behind. And mostly, whether our thoughts of 2023 retail came into fruition.

Let's dig in...

Trend 01: Fluidity, Flexibility and Community

No, it’s not a new trend. We’ve discussed the advancement in customer expectations for years & brands have been responding with physical retail spaces to exceed just racks and rows of products. But following the dip of the pandemic whereby “only the essentials” became our mantra, we witnessed brands and retailers renewing their in-store concepts once again.

Selfridges’ Corner Shop has been a key play in this concept renewal, with fluidity and flexibility at the very heart of the space. We’ve seen this location become a bathroom for Jacquemus, a swimming pool for Skims, a London x Disney wonderland for Charlotte Tilbury and most recently, a playful set-up for Pleasing. While likened to a pop-up shop for its quick turnaround, the Corner Shop is a little more than that. It’s a flexible homebase for Selfridges, easily transformed with the hottest brands and latest collabs, while maintaining a community of avid Selfridges shoppers. Within one of the busiest and most revered shopping locations of the country, the fluidity and flexibility trend truly came to life.

Trend 02: Biophillic Retail Spaces

While we felt the murmurs of biophilic spaces would take off with a bang (with the likes of adidas, Glossier and Uniqlo featuring organic plant life in-stores), 2023 wasn’t the year for it. And we’re ok with that. Not all of our predictions are going to come true!

Trend 03: Architectural Localisation

Another trend we envisioned high on the importance list & one which has seen the likes of Glossier and Aesop thrive in brick and mortar recently. For Aesop, their latest store inside Cabot Place mall could easily be mistaken for a modern bank set-up. Reflective of the area’s bustling financial environment, the in-store partitions are reminiscent of financial privacy, the products are housed within business-like filing cabinets and the sinks seem almost fit for a bank teller. And lastly, the lighting. Custom-designed, the rectangular structures are a reference to a crisp bank note. At the heart of their brand, Aesop are an Australian luxury skincare brand. But it is their localisation and community buzz which influences the store design, with a design palette curated to honour the local streets. In short, architectural localisation was indeed a trend to influence 2023 creativity.

Trend 04: Consumerism Curtailment

The concept of consumerism curtailment doesn’t insinuate a loss of passion for shopping. It’s quite the opposite. We have maintained an appetite for purchases, but the last year has further proved that our shopping baskets are less quantity and more quality. The first factor in this trend is product lifecycle, with many of us seeking products to last a lifetime. In fact, the sheer adoration for Vinted selling & buying in 2023 alone highlights that we are unafraid to shop pre-owned. To answer this desire for extending product lifecycle, many brands have been upgrading their store services to include repairs of much-loved products. Uniqlo’s newest store in Covent Garden has made a name for itself in retail design circles this year for its immersive & chilled shopping experience, not forgetting its commitment to extending lifecycles with its Re.Uniqlo Studio.

Trend 05: Luxury Experiences

Last year we commented: “We finish with a retail design trend which is possibly the most important of all. As a retail design agency, we are witness to countless design briefs which feature ‘experiential design’ at the forefront. More and more, people are looking for physical spaces which transcend the traditional format and create memorable brand experiences, not always so focused on how big our shopping baskets can be.”

And if anyone answered that trend so fully in 2023, it was the wonderful minds at Glossier. The Glossier Realms of You pop-up on Regent Street (live until January) is a true embodiment of how brands can really transcend the norm of the highstreet. With the pop-up design totally inspired by the You fragrance and how it can smell different person to person, the whole experience is also totally unique per visitor. A soft spoken Glossier ‘actor’ guides you through lush red velvet curtains, introducing you to the ASMR room with a cinematic experience and leads you into a room punctuated with small booths and gloved hands – each of which have a different personality. Sure, the product can be found along the way with options for scent discovery and insight into the price. But it is not the sole purpose of the pop-up. Instead, it is the lingering scent of the perfume combined with the memorable moment which really honours the luxury experience trend.

We predicted five key trends for 2023 and four of them truly made their mark throughout the year. We'll take that! While retail changes so fluidly with each passing (or sticking) trend, there have been some notable moments within the trends we defined and we look forward to sharing our next set of forecasts.

Keep your eyes peeled for our 2024 predictions, featuring on thoughts on future pop-ups, wellness & these seemingly intense AI conversations….

Terrex Munich Biophilic Design

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