Connect with us

John Ryan

Do the Homework and Your Shops will Thrive

Though most U.K. stores are closed, retailers are hard at work on evolving the in-store experience.




WHO’D BE A shopfitter in the current climate? Shops are closing, people are buying online and retailers are shutting their doors, at the moment, anyway.

Yet visiting one such organization just outside London this week, it was apparent that work was being done, virtually and physically. This must rather make the point that even although most U.K. shops (with the exception of grocers and essential — whatever this means — retailers) are closed, many are calling on the services of those who produce store equipment to get on with it.

Equally, speaking to a couple of those sitting on the other side of the fence (a.k.a. retailers), there is the sense that times may be tough, but that if nothing is done, when the good effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab begin to have a real effect, if retailers aren’t ready, things may yet get worse.

For this reason, to understand the shape of things to come later in 2021, it is instructive to talk to both shopfitters and retailers, even if there are no customers in the branches of the latter here in the U.K. In more “normal” times, this would be standard practice for those seeking to read the runes. At the moment, however, in a very different era, there are still pressing reasons for asking questions to understand what’s going on. And it all appears not to be about battening down the hatches.

So what should we take away from all of this? The assumption has to be that while physical retailers, the smart ones at least, will be benefiting from their online arms, the great majority of them also see physical as the way forward (egged on, of course, by large estates) later in the year.

The fact that there have been casualties during 2020 is obvious, but what will come out of this will be better stores than were there previously. Working, that is, on the assumption that the “homework” and hard graft is currently being done. Those that complete it will get top grades, but the effort will have to have been made.


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 Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.



Embracing Whole-Brained Thinking in the Design Journey

Strategy needs creative, and creative needs strategy—yep, having both is really the only way of unifying all disciplines with a common vernacular with an eye toward building a strong creative vision that is foundational to the processes. Hear from Bevan Bloemendaal, former VP, Global Environments & Creative Services at Timberland, how to connect the dots between disciplines, claiming and creating a clear differentiation for the brand and ensuring that any asset (experience, product, ad, store, office, home, video, game) is created with intention.

Promoted Headlines

Most Popular