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EDITORIAL How retailers are balancing creative tensions of sustainability, the cost of living and the role of stores

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Today’s InternetRetailing newsletter is investigating some of the conundrums now affecting retail. Does sustainability still matter to shoppers during a cost of living squeeze? Will spending fall this Christmas? What are shops for in a post-Covid-19 world? How retailers – and others – balance the creative tensions that these questions throw up is leading to some interesting results.

Shoppers faced with rising inflation and the broader cost of living are planning to cut back on Christmas spending, according to a new Retail Economics and Metapack report. The report also questions retailer expectations about how much they will sell this year – and what parts of their service matter most to customers. 

The cost of living also trumps sustainable issues for fashion buyers, says a Nosto study, but it suggests that sustainability nonetheless remains important. Its research prompts suggestions for useful ways that retailers can offer sustainable options at a lower cost – including slower and more sustainable delivery. 

Furniture retailer Made shows its experience of the market as it continues to look for a buyer as one possible route out of a crisis in which it has been hit by both rising inflation, particularly in its supply chain, and falling consumer confidence. 

In a timely guest column, veteran retailer David Kohn offers insights into retail strategies that work for selling big ticket items

New kinds of shops are emerging, both as shoppers return in-store post-Covid-19 and as retailers look to become more sustainable. Both fashion retailer Cos and grocer Aldi have introduced new environmentally-friendly store concepts. Delivery company Deliveroo has launched its first shop, in partnership with Morrisons, and property owner Grosvenor is venturing into high fashion.

And John Lewis has introduced a womenswear rental service in a move designed to boost its sustainability in a market where shoppers buy more clothes than elsewhere in Europe, and that also launches it into a fast-expanding industry.

Today’s guest comment comes from Jon Knott of Dojo who considers the role the experience economy can play in retail. 

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