The evolution of the retail sector in Spain will be marked by the adoption of an omnichannel strategy and the coexistence between the physical and online channels, which will change the traditional concept of physical consumer spaces. This was the conclusion of various experts at the third session of the Savills Talks Young Talent.
In fact, changes in purchasing dynamics, which have been given a push by the lockdowns during the pandemic, and the boost of e-commerce have already caused both high street and shopping center businesses to show greater interest in creating flagship stores that can serve as showrooms, so that the customer can have contact with the product before buying it online. In this way, operators can save on stock and storage costs in their stores and focus on offering a unique experience that conveys brand values to their customers.
The consultants agree in drawing attention to the 'halo effect', through which a symbiotic relationship is established between physical establishments and their online stores, and thanks to which e-stores opening an offline channel see their online sales increase by between 15 % and 20%.
However, professionals also reflect on the profitability of the online channel, since it is not as high as it may initially seem, given the high last mile costs, the threat of the collapse of the order platforms or the high rate of order returns, which are detrimental to the operator's margins. Therefore, they believe that facilities such as shopping centers will start to make their spaces more flexible, using car parks as click & collect areas, as has already been seen during the pandemic.
This trend, however, is somewhat different with more premium brands or stores at high street locations. These configure their spaces to create a unique brand experience and the process of collecting or returning the product is part of this experience.
With regard to shopping centers, experts believe that, although interest will continue to be high, given the strong roots of leisure in the country's culture, they are undergoing a process of transformation. They believe that the business model that combines retail, leisure and restaurants will continue, but also that more and more people are betting on offering alternative services, such as, for example, making it possible to perform extreme sport activities in the same center.
Along these lines, they agree that the setting up of coworkings in shopping centers in dormitory cities or on the periphery of large cities could be a model that works perfectly, but they recall that there are still no urban permits that allow this to be carried out.