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For a long time, I had a memory that was so strange that I thought I must have dreamt it… there was a shop that had a lion and bears (in cages) to attract customers.

David Smith

David Smith, the Sunday Times’s longstanding economics editor, recalling his childhood visits to Coles of Bilston in the Black Country and the enormous pester power the retailer wielded on account of its arresting window displays. Harrods Pet Kingdom, Smith notes, had a similar effect in London, at least until the advent of the 1976 Endangered Species Act.

Harrods Pet Kingdom

Conceding that this approach to visual merchandising and window dressing wouldn’t work today, Smith asks: 

So how do you make a physical shopping experience that may involve queuing, masks and plastic screens attractive?  

For the sake of argument, let’s work on the basis that Covid-19 is 2020’s equivalent of the Endangered Species Act, accelerating trends and threatening to take no prisoners in its scourge of lacklustre shops.  

How do we, as retail and hospitality design consultants, intend to help our clients to lure customers back to shops and restaurants when they – we – have become so accustomed to the convenience and immediacy of delivery? 

Smith has suggested that his readers email him with examples of memorable experiences. In the meantime, we’d suggest that brands look to their own values on the basis that the answer may lie within: 

The Co-op puts principles before profits and is a Fairtrade pioneer; there is an opportunity to build this reputation and tell this story in store to a young audience who prioritise ethical purchasing 

The Co-Op

Our client Aldi’s commitment to product quality, freshness and low price is built into the very fabric of the way the business operates; we won a FAB award in 2019 for our work on its new Local format 

Waitrose champions ethical farming practices and communicates this clearly in its store environments, reminding customers of its promise always to offer quality food, honestly priced 

Upscale greengrocer Natoora makes visits worthwhile with entirely plastic-free built stores, in store education on seasonality and story-telling photography and graphics that hero its small growers 

Lush ethically produced ranges are a veritable riot of colour and fragrance, demanding attention, positively inviting discovery and delivering a sensory overload that cannot be replicated online  

Lush Interior

Our role at CADA is to help our clients to draw out these differentiators, appreciate their value and establish how to render them into physical stores with the ability to attract customers in a post-Covid world. If you’d like to have a chat about how we might be able to do this for you, please get in touch

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