Is 2014 the Year of the Turnaround?

Signs of a more prosperous shift for retail in the U.S., U.K.
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Posted January 29, 2014

We’d all like to think that with the coming of the New Year things will somehow be different. New leaves will be turned over, resolutions will be made and old (generally bad) habits will be left behind in the ashes of the previous year. All well and good, but life’s not like that and the truth of the matter is, that for the most part, shops and retailers will be pretty much the same in 2014 as they were in 2013, except that in January and February there won’t be the same insistent consumer demand: Holidays are well and truly over.

There is however a “but” about all of this. This year, as 2013 is consigned to the box marked “done and dusted and let’s forget about it,” there really are signs that things may shift. In the U.K. and the U.S. (forget about continental Europe for the moment – it’s still something of a basket-case) there really is the sense that we are on the up and up, and retailers are reacting by putting long-mothballed plans to improve their store portfolios back on the table as a prelude to actually starting work.

The upshot of this is that money is likely to be spent on store interiors and with next month’s EuroShop beckoning to the design world, as it does every three years, it seems probable that the glossy stands will actually do a fair bit of business.

Economists will always tell you that things move in cycles and that all we are seeing is the inevitable upswing following a very long downturn. Maybe so, but it’s hard not to feel a spring in the step at the turn that events seem to be taking. Sure, there have been casualties, but is it too much to hope that we may actually have emerged from the maelstrom in better shape than when we went into it? 2014 may just turn out to be the year when the penny-pinching ways of the last half-decade are suddenly left behind and the interiors sector has some time in the sun.

John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A based in London and then Dusseldorf. He lives and works in London.