Retail highlights from 2017

  • Opinion
  • December 12, 2017
  • Chris Beasleigh
Retail highlights from 2017

Increased customer spend and rising tourist numbers mean 2017 has been a great year for retailers.

For me, 2017 can be summed up in one word, ‘experience’. Retailers have cottoned onto the reality that shoppers are looking for an experience, not just turning up in their stores as a need but also for the add-on aspects of entertainment that can come with it.

The shopping ‘experience’

New Zealand isn’t flush with things to do on wet weekends. On wet days many flock to malls and why? Not just to buy items, but for the ‘experience’ and food and beverage plays a big role in this. Landlords know that the right combination of quality food outlets leads to increased footfall and time spent shopping. This trend isn’t just limited to shopping malls. Many shopping districts and CBDs are becoming increasingly pedestrianised, with laneways being popular in Christchurch and Wellington, and there are also plans to pedestrianise large areas of the Auckland CBD over the next few years. A variety of food and beverage outlets will be key features in these developments as planners look to provide a modern shopping experience.

Cinemas have also played a big role in enhancing the experience in shopping malls and retail areas. For many, the cinema rounds off a day of shopping and a number of cinemas have started tailoring experiences to specific audiences such as ‘Gold Class’ packages that include reclining seats and a glass of wine, as well as ‘singalong screenings’ on a Friday night. Many older cinemas have also looked to recreate nostalgic 1950s style experiences.

Tourism and overseas investment

The arrival of the British and Irish Lions at the end of May brought a huge increase in tourism with numbers in June 2017 up 17 percent on June 2016. The influx saw an increase in retail spend in many of the hosting areas. In the week leading up to the second test in Wellington, Paymark figures showed that $16.9m dollars was spent in bars, restaurants and cafes with electronic spending up 25 percent compared to a typical week in May. What’s more, these figures excluded cash payments so the actual figure is likely to be much higher!

Like tourists, global fashion retailers have also identified New Zealand as a positive market with the likes of Zara and H&M having expanded operations to include New Zealand. During 2017, H&M expanded to the South Island and the store was one of the main attractions at the opening of Christchurch’s new retail precinct ‘The Crossing’ in September - drawing in hundreds from all over the Canterbury region. H&M opening their second store in New Zealand is one example of a continuing trend of interest from major overseas brands that looks set to continue.

Increasing use of technology

The role of digital technology is also increasing and savvy retailers are getting creative with the use of Wi-Fi and personalisation. The provision of free Wi-Fi in retail outlets opens up a digital communications channel with customers and has allowed many retailers to serve personalised content and offers to customers.

With so many positive outcomes for retail during 2017 I am excited to see what 2018 will bring. Food and beverage is such a growing trend and one that I expect to continue. Technology in 2018 will continue to bring opportunities for retailers but it will take the business savvy ones to make it a success, something New Zealanders with Kiwi ingenuity are famous for! 

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