Going Beyond Retail…on the High Street

Walking down New Bond Street at a ‘fashion night out’ event, I asked myself whether the level of entertainment retailers were providing just for this occasion should be a day-to-day occurrence. Should the in-house DJ’s, glass of champagne, canapés, popcorn stalls, manicurists, masseuses and photo booths be saved for special occasions? My answer is reluctantly yes, but wouldn’t it be great if these novelties were provided everyday! Taking this a step further: we argued in Retail 2020 that retailers needed to “go beyond retail” – can the same be done at the level of the high street location?

New Bond Street in the early evening is usually quiet, but the number of people this event attracted was overwhelming. I found myself having to push my way through large crowds in many stores and even queuing to get inside others. This attraction of the masses surely proves that people are drawn in by shopping experience, or does it? It is evident people were drawn into the stores, but not many people were purchasing goods or even taking much notice of the brand. Therefore it might be said that all this exciting entertainment is an expensive distraction as individuals simply want to gorge themselves on freebies.

An event like this is inevitably costly and is not sustainable. It is possible, however, for retailers to create a new and different shopping experience, which will attract shoppers and enhance product sales. What remains questionable is whether this can be rolled out on a high street level.

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