It is quite interesting to see how things have changed in the past ten years regarding shops and retail market trends. How are things changing, and where is the market heading?

Retailers and landlords must adapt to new trends, but no need to panic – at least not yet, as nothing can match an afternoon browsing through Main Street, or indeed any high street of your choosing. On a recent trip to Winchester in southern England, I went to visit a fishing tackle shop landmark: The Rod Box. I was lucky to find them still there as they were just about to move a few miles away to a more convenient and cost-effective location. They still had a fair amount of stock but they explained to me that a lot of their business was online which made a tremendous difference when it came to stocks of merchandise. I agreed but I had to make it to Portsmouth Ferry in my newly acquired English classic car without my much desired chest fishing waders as I intended to do a little fishing in Asturias. Online ordering was sadly in this case out of the question.

I was sad to hear that the Gibraltar Bookshop –one of the few places to purchase books – is closing down for good. I have always been an avid reader. I thoroughly enjoyed walking into the Gibraltar Bookshop and looking at new novels as well as classics, and in the case of not finding what I was looking for, just ordering my book from this lovely little store. A few days later I would receive a telephone call from the shop to let me know that my book had arrived. I walked over happy and excited to collect my newly arrived little treasure. How can you match this feeling to just ordering online? There is simply no comparison as the feelings are both good and entirely different at the same time.

I know that e-books are replacing a lot of the normal paper books, but according to some research I have done there is still room for both. Taking this second example into account one can see perhaps a clear case of how the market is moving onto something more modern. The fact remains that I will have to either buy my books online or get them somewhere along the coast where bookshops are still operating quite successfully. That small store on Main Street, once empty, will surely be snapped up by a new tenant who will sell other products or services.

Taking these insignificant cases into account one can surely feel the dramatic changes taking place in the retail market and both landlords and tenants should give the future a little consideration. After some research there are some important facts to consider on how the new retail market is changing.

Retail shops will continue to exist and in some cases thrive but it is a true fact that the only way forward is to be special. A successful retailer shop must bear in mind that their customers are looking for convenience, experience, and personalisation. The store of the future, no matter its size, will have to offer these three things. Another important factor to keep in mind is that personal shopping equals high-end shopping, and if a store offers both in-store stocks plus online delivery or custom orders, a next-day delivery should be feasible to consolidate a good clientele. Bear in mind that the future is more about considerably less inventory and more about providing intermediary and indispensable location-based services that result in sales, which also build relationships with customers and capture new data. Small has often been beautiful, hence a little efficient store would work wonders – particularly in Gibraltar where retail space is limited and therefore expensive.

It is interesting to know that most of the shopping still happens in real bricks and mortar stores. Amazon is no doubt the largest online leader at the moment, but it does not make it to the top five when you look at the whole retail pie. The future is difficult to predict, but so far real shops where one can actually touch, try and feel the product in your hands are here to stay (with a good degree of adaptation, naturally). The general public still heads to large stores such as Ikea to spend a morning or afternoon en famille, inspecting the products that will furnish and decorate their new home. It is a relevant fact that over 25 million US dollars were spent in Ikea alone during 2017, most of it in store.

Another interesting fact is that in major UK cities, for each store closed in 2017, three new shops opened up. So the future of the traditional store seems to be quite stable for years to come.