The European shopper of the future likes to ‘touch and feel’ products before buying, is a more advanced user of technology, and expects an entertainment experience from retail centres, according to a new survey by global property advisor CBRE.
Contrary to common perception, visiting a shop to ‘touch and feel’ products is considered most important for younger generations with 86% of young adults (16-24 year olds) believing the physical store is important to the online shopping process. At the same time, this age group is much more familiar with digital technology than older age groups and is most likely to use blogs or social media for product reviews and the best price.
The survey, which canvassed the opinions of more than 10,000 people across 10 European countries, reveals that young adults are the most frequent shoppers across virtually all locations and methods including online, shopping malls, and local shops.
Shopping locally is becoming more important particularly for young adults who visit local stores for fashion shopping on average 19 times a year. Young adults also shop most frequently in town centres or high streets due to the ease of access and low car ownership. Lower income consumers of all ages plan to use their cars less for shopping in the future and this will increase the overall frequency of local shopping further.
Peter Gold, Head of EMEA Cross-Border Retail, CBRE, commented:
“Shoppers can now use mobile devices to access discount codes, use social networking sites to share feedback, make price comparisons and even order online from within a shopping centre. These tools have only really taken hold with younger shoppers who are beginning to use technology to research potential purchases or find the best price; they know and expect quality, but won’t pay through the roof for it.
“Young shoppers still like the assurance of being able to ‘touch and feel’ a product and it’s clear that the physical store complements the online world, often acting as a showroom. A strong tenant mix providing both quality and value remains essential, but managers should also be investing in their in-store strategies and digital technology. Features such as cinemas, digital walls and the use of tablets on the shopfloor will increasingly contribute towards the experience of a complete day out.”
Entertainment, leisure and catering facilities play a key role in attracting younger shoppers to retail centres. Close to half of 16-24 year-olds view facilities such as cinemas and bowling as important or very important to the shopping experience. The social aspects of meeting and spending time with friends (not necessarily to shop) are also of more relevance to low income consumers. In the future, shopping in major centres or out-of-town centres will grow in importance for younger people. A quarter of those in the 16-34 age group anticipate shopping in major retail destinations more often, compared with just 12% of those aged 55-64.