Leading shopping center operator Westfield unveils findings of extensive research underscoring transformational retail shift

New report based on feedback from over 13,000 shoppers and experts reveals five key trends that will shape the retail industry of tomorrow

Feb 08, 2016, 09:00 ET from Westfield Corporation

LONDON and NEW YORK, Feb. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Westfield today issued "How We Shop Now: What's Next?" a report unveiling five key trends that will shape tomorrow's retail industry.  The report, Westfield's first major study of future retail, draws on interviews with leading experts and more than 13,000 shoppers across Westfield's iconic and highly trafficked centers in the U.S. and UK to identify transformational consumer trends that will shape future success for retailers. 

"This is arguably the most exciting time in retailing history," says Myf Ryan, Chief Marketing Officer, Westfield UK and Europe. "Retailers have to be brave and innovative, identifying what shoppers will want in the future by offering genuine added value to create an experience that cannot exist online.  The five trends we have identified by speaking to shoppers across our world-class shopping locations in the U.S. and UK offer a blueprint for the future of successful retail. 

"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 themes include: 

  • Rental Retail: Consumers are already accustomed to the 'sharing economy', tapping into Uber for rides, and Airbnb for places to stay.  People are increasingly interested in retailers adopting this model.
    • 15% of Americans are interested in renting from their favorite stores.
    • Nearly one in six shoppers in New York is interested in clothing rental, versus one in ten in San Diego.
    • The rental retail trend is particularly strong among millennials -- over a third (35%) of 25-34 year olds are interested in renting.
    • Exercise equipment topped the list of what people wanted to rent (17%), followed by consumer electronics (15%), furniture (11%) and cars (10%).
    • 23% of New Yorkers interested in renting would spend $200 or more on an unlimited clothing rental subscription.
  • Classroom Retail: Shoppers are increasingly seeing retail spaces not only as places to purchase, but as classrooms where they can learn new skills and build social networks.
    • Nearly a third of shoppers (32%) are interested in attending a lifestyle lesson at their favorite store.
    • Shoppers in the U.S. want health or fitness sessions most (29%), followed by inspiring learning sessions such as creative cookery (27%), expert sessions (20%) and then clubs (17%).
    • Over a fifth of U.S. shoppers in New York (22%), Los Angeles (23%), San Francisco (22%) and San Diego (21%) are interested in sessions involving skills development such as music making.
  • Enhanced Reality Retail: The report predicts that virtual reality will become ubiquitous as shoppers increasingly want this technology to understand how products will work for them specifically.
    • 42% of people in the U.S. would like to use new technologies, such as virtual reality headsets, to experience how products will look in their home.
    • A third said they would be interested in using virtual assistance to see how clothes would look on them.
  • Loyalty Programs that Recognize Good Choices: There is a new consumer demand for loyalty programs that reward good lifestyle choices.
    • More than a fifth (21%) of U.S. consumers said they'd like to be rewarded for good choices – including recycling (23%), exercising (23%), spending time with family (20%) eating healthier (16%), and even charity volunteering (11%).
    • 16% of Americans want to be rewarded for making good financial decisions – rising to 18% in New York and San Francisco.
    • The youngest, 16-24 year old, audience in both the U.S. and UK particularly want rewards for having a work-life balance with time spent with loved ones.
  • Sensory Retail: Time spent engaging with screens plays havoc with our body's sensory system. Consumers don't just want to smell flowers or hear birds chirping on a reel in stores; they want to overload their senses with extraordinary experiences that re-awaken all of their senses, all at once. They want inside-out retail.
    • 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 sound.

In addition to the five key themes, the new report offers a "Retail Fast Facts" snapshot including figures like how much we're spending and how we're paying, with cashless payments seeming to pick up momentum in cities. While 75% of shoppers said they hadn't used cashless payments in the past, a third of that group said they were likely to do so in the future (34%). In the U.S., while less than 1 in 10 shoppers had used cashless payments overall, nearly 1 in 5 shoppers in New York and San Francisco had done so.

The report is available to download at https://uk.westfield.com/london/how-we-shop-now

Attracting 435 million shopper visits last year, Westfield's portfolio of 34 shopping centers – including 6,400 retail outlets – is comprised of destinations including Westfield Century City in Los Angeles, UTC in San Diego, Valley Fair in San Jose, San Francisco Centre, New Jersey's Garden State Plaza, Chicago's Old Orchard, multiple locations in Connecticut, Florida, Maryland and Washington D.C., as well as Westfield London and Westfield Stratford in the UK.  Westfield also has multiple projects under development, including Westfield World Trade Center – expected to be one of the most productive shopping destinations in the world, opening later this year.

An online survey was conducted in seven markets, between October 16th and November 6th 2015. The survey was rolled out in the following markets: U.S. nationally, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, UK nationally, and London.  A total of 13,114 answers were collected among respondents aged 18 or older. Experts in fashion and shopping as well as architecture and design were interviewed. The expert commentary was complemented with observational studies and interviews with Westfield shoppers as they were in stores in London and the U.S. in order to best understand the customer mindset.

About Westfield 
Westfield Corporation (ASX Code: WFD) is an internally managed, vertically integrated, shopping center group undertaking ownership, development, design, construction, funds/asset management, property management, leasing and marketing activities and employing approximately 2,000 staff worldwide. Westfield Corporation has interests in 34 shopping centers in the United States and the United Kingdom, encompassing approximately 6,400 retail outlets and total assets under management of $28 billion.

Media Contact 
Westfield Corporation: 
Charlotte Stone / Grace Lacy-Hansell at KEKST 
212-521-4844 / 4820 
charlotte.stone@kekst.com / grace.lacyhansell@kekst.com 

SOURCE Westfield Corporation