How will retail change and develop in 2019? We hear from industry insiders and share their predictions for the year ahead. This ongoing series will focus on a different theme each time. Today we’re looking at sustainability, as more shoppers become more aware of the impact of their retail decisions on the wider environment.
Alex Rohloff, co-founder of payments platform Laybuy
In 2019, I believe we’ll see millennials making more conscious decisions when it comes to their buying habits. Now more than ever, millennials are beginning to sit up and take notice of some of the damaging effects the retail sector is having on the planet. In 2018, the nation took a stance against the volume of single-use plastic sent to landfill, from straws, to plastic bottles and coffee cups. I believe within the next 12 months millennials will wake up to further ways they can reduce the impact their shopping habits have on the environment. Shoppers will choose to spend money with more environmentally conscious brands and therefore, retailers will be forced into further action
‘Generation Green’ as we are being termed is already going some way to shape retailer behaviour forcing brands to use greener, and more readily-recyclable packaging. However, I believe this trend will spread to a desire for a more ethical supply chain, as well as more awareness when it comes to our delivery carbon footprint. Just look at Amazon; it delivers on average 1,600,000 packages every single day. The carbon emissions, plastic and energy assumption associated with that figure will be off the scale. It’s only a matter of time before consumers take action and fight to overcome to the negative impact this is having on our planet, pressuring retailers to offer a greener shopping experience from warehouse to wardrobe.
Andrew Westbrook, head of retail at business advisors RSM
The last year has seen a real shift in attitude towards the environmental impact our purchases are having on the planet with plastic straws disappearing almost overnight and zero waste shops popping up across the country. As awareness grows and people’s attitudes change, other areas of concern, such as the destructive impact of fast fashion, are coming under scrutiny. The fashion industry is one of the top five most polluting industries in the world, and its consumers will hold retailers accountable for investing in eco-friendly production. Businesses who fail to do so will face significant pressure.
Alan Treadgold, retail expert at innovation and transformation consultancy PA Consulting
Customers will become even more concerned about the ethical and environmental practices of the businesses and brands with which they engage. As well as continued scrutiny on where and how products are sourced, I expect more customer attention to be focused on end-of-use recycling practices for products and packaging that they have no further use for. I’m very confident that we will be seeing a lot more innovative activity in this space.