Facing the Future of Retail – Looking ahead, 2022 and beyond

Matt Hornblower CEO

matt.hornblower@nuttall.co.uk - Retail Predictions - January 6 2022.

Usually, as we face into the New Year, retail news channels are awash with predictions for the year ahead. But this year things are a little quiet re: authoritative statements of what the future of retail might hold. A combination of continuing Covid pressures, constraints on Global Supply Chains and unpredictability of consumer behaviour in light of both factors are causing coyness amongst pundits.

But we did find some inspiring words from one of McKinsey’s big-brained futurists – who was prepared to cast the net out further to 2030…

Retail 2030

“It’s about being agile, evolving, staying culturally relevant. It’s about reimagining space and flow: How will people come through this space? What will they feel? What’s the draw? What’s the attraction, beyond just stuff on shelves?

It’s about creating magic. Great retailers, in the future, will make you feel like you’re in a special place, designed especially for you, so that you take time out of your life to go to that place because it feels like the right place to be. It’s aspirational.”

Ref: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Featured%20Insights/The%20Next%20Normal/The-Next-Normal-The-future-of-shopping.pdf

These inspiring words set us to thinking about some of the trends we’ve seen emerging amongst our own client base that dovetail well with this kind of thinking and wanted to share our own insights and highlights with you.


Increasingly, forward-thinking retailers are bringing digital in-store, integrating with on-line experiences and using physical retail spaces as flagship ‘showrooms’ for consumers to see, touch and experience products. It may be that dramatically fewer purchases are made within stores of the future, with consumers preferring the convenience of transacting on-line and enjoying the benefits of home delivery.

Our long-time client and UK premium flooring brand Amtico has incorporated digital elements within their in-store schemes for many years. Whilst another of our clients – Pets at Home, has responded to the retail pressures of Covid, by rethinking their in-store formats and repositioning an innovative, interactive click-and-collect space, right at the front of their outlets.


Consumers can expect increasingly personal in-store experiences in the years ahead. This isn’t simply about selling consumers more of the things they already buy – but about harnessing the power of big data to present customers with new and alternative choices to expand their buying repertoires. We envisage this kind of development taking merchandising to the next level (and then some).

We’ve yet to see big data genuinely hit the sales floors of the UK’s biggest and best-loved retailers. But we’ve certainly helped our clients point their customers squarely at products they wish to showcase and upsell. Two projects for Morrison’s – one that spotlights ‘Best of’ premium bakery lines and a second Brew concept that showcase food-to-go for ultimate customer convenience are just two that spring to mind.

Sustainability, Community and Fun

Retailers with their fingers squarely of the pulse of emerging consumer behaviour will go all out to create opportunities for brands to forge genuine connections with shoppers in-store and make stars of products and services that fit with the desire for more sustainable retail.

We’ve worked hand-in-hand with the team at ASDA to bring the green agenda to life for customers in innovative and interesting ways. And we’re always keen to explore greener ways of achieving our clients’ desired outcomes via innovative materials sourcing strategies or by refurbing and refreshing existing fit outs, as we’ve done for M&S.

Making the Magic Happen

Delivering the ‘wow’ that makes retail memorable is definitely front and central in the thinking of retail futurists and the progressive store designers of today. Delivering the exceptional touches, flourishes and fine detail that elevate retail way out of the ordinary and turn it into the stuff memories are made of appears to be the golden ticket for retail 2030.

You can see this principle in action for work we’ve done on RHS. If you think garden centres are Sunday afternoon fodder for elderly relatives, take a look at this flagship store project – which re-visioned and re-invented green-fingered retail to appeal to all generations and make memories that families could treasure.

In short, we’re seeing our clients gravitating strongly towards futurist-identified trends in retail. And we’re always happy to discuss your ideas and ambitions to surprise and delight your customers in the here and now.

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