TESCO unveiled its revamped hypermarket in Watford last week to much fanfare. The 80,000 square foot store is a crucial test-bed for the “retail destination” concept Tesco is creating to tackle declining footfall as the digital revolution bites.
Tony Hoggett, Tesco Extra head, said the store – with its community room, Euphorium bakery, Giraffe restaurant, pizza counter and stronger focus on fresh food – was not the final answer but “part of the answer... It’s a test of many propositions under one roof”.
It is an answer all non-food retailers are being forced to look for to justify the sky-high cost of space and stay relevant to customers presented with ever more ways in which to shop.
As John Lewis boss Andy Street said, retailers are having to be more radical with space than ever before. “It all used to be very logical but what our customers are telling us in these internet days is that when they go to the shop they want to be inspired to see things in a way in which they don’t see them online.”
Shopping online now accounts for more than £1 in every £10 spent and is rocketing. Bricks and mortar retailers with too much space on their hands are having to rethink how to make it more relevant to consumers’ changing needs.
Turning large stores into more attractive and compelling retail destinations is one answer. Using the space for click and collect is another. But we need to see more radical experiments, and fast.