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Comment: 2016 has been a bumper year for retail design

2016 has proved to be a bumper year for new store formats, with retailers big and small getting creative to meet new consumer demands.

There has been a global trend for fashion retailers to create supersized, high impact stores that make shopping an event, while brands have continued to create flagship stores to present themselves in themselves in the best possible light.

Small independents have made a virtue of their individuality and unique offers, with personalised service and an experience that can’t be matched online.

Popular shopping venues are seeing an increase in specialist independent stores, offering artisan takes on everything from coffee or confectionery to leather goods and sportswear. And there has been a concerted effort to reinvent the way that products and services are provided to customers – with digital signage and connected technology make big leaps over the year.

Taken together, and in the context of the wider use of pop-up spaces, these changes arguably make 2016 a game-changing year for retail. A successful high street may now contain butchers, estate agents, micro-pubs and convenience stores that use store formats far from what would have been the norm until very recently. And shoppers are using stores in new and different ways, driven by experience, exploration and curiosity, as well as convenience.

Design is at the heart of these changes, helping retailers and brands to understand their customers and inspire them to shop. Before we enter 2017, here is a selection of some of Retail Design World’s popular Design Showcase articles from 2016.