Does size matter in SG? Retail returning to XL

August 16, 2017 / By  

Singapore’s retail sector has seen quite the tumultuous year. On a year-on-year (constant price) basis, 2016 recorded the decade’s steepest decline in retail sales, at 3.4 per cent, excluding motor vehicles. Since the start of 2017, we have witnessed – albeit at an uneven pace – three consecutive months of growth starting in March.

Despite retailers struggling to pinpoint the best formula to tackle the structural challenges in the market, and the exit of larger format departmental stores, it seems the latest trend is for retailers to upsize their space.

Why does size matter in retail?

Indeed, a larger space does allow retailers to display a wider range of their products, which is a selling point for the outlet. Take Love, Bonito’s first flagship store, for instance, an e-commerce retailer that took a leap from pop-up stores, to a 4,603 sq ft space at 313@Somerset along the Orchard-Somerset shopping belt. The brand bridges the online-offline experience by stocking clothes on a rack, and creates a consummate experience for its customers by providing a touch-point for them to mingle, get styling tips, and take part in workshops to learn to dress better according to their body types.

Other retailers such as tech giant Apple have taken even larger strides – one that is comparable size-wise to department stores. While their sleekly designed store spans two levels and faces the Orchard-Somerset shopping belt, most of their products are displayed uniformly across the first floor, and the second floor has been converted into the Forum, whereby different types of workshops under their trademark “Today at Apple” sessions are frequently conducted for all to learn how to use their products from a pro.

Children are also welcomed to dive heads and hands-on into creative projects that utilises Apple products, amalgamating the idea of having collaborative spaces such as the Forum into being a part of the full retail experience.

Another retailer that has realised the benefits of seeing the larger picture is MUJI, whose new 20,400 sq ft store in Plaza Singapura, also along the shopping belt, has been warmly welcomed for its multiple offerings, including their third in-store café, unique clothing, household products and furniture under its Found MUJI, IDEE and MUJI Labo merchandise lines that were not previously found in Singapore, custom embroidery services, as well as the first interactive Open MUJI concept space that will be used to conduct exhibitions, workshops and talks in collaboration with local creatives and designers.

Bigger can be better in retail

The key to a retail store’s success lies in how creatively the space is used. In this case, ‘thinking big’ for the future of retail should not be constrained by its size and how many products a store can display. Instead, retailers should review their variety, and consider how to consistently stir new and recurring waves of interest from shoppers. Soon to be gone are the days of the cookie-cutter style of retail, and I do find that quite a big deal!

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