There's a shift in retail environments happening and Tesco is leading the way by looking at alternative uses of their huge supermarkets, having discovered that shoppers prefer smaller supermarkets and more frequently shop online they are now left with space to develop in their Extra stores.
Tesco opened their first new concept Extra Store in Watford, one of the biggest stores in their estate, on the 12th August bringing in new shopping and eating experiences. As well as developing the home ware and new look boutique clothing areas Tesco are also set to open family friendly restaurant Giraffe in 12 stores across the Tesco estate, having recently bought the chain for £49 million. Alongside Girraffe Tesco are offering the artisan coffee experience Harris and Hoole within stores and a deli style bakery experience with the Euphorium Bakery, The Bakery Project. They are also looking at offering cookery classes, baby gyms and yoga classes free of charge, and being more community led with some of the uses of space. It's almost like they are becoming the new town centres!
UK Managing Director, Chris Bush commented: 'We’ve spoken a lot about our vision to create compelling retail destinations in our larger stores; places where customers come to spend time and meet their friends and family. Watford is the first store where many of our innovations and ideas have come together and it’s great to see it all under one roof. Watford represents a fundamental change in the way that people are doing their shopping. More and more of our customers are shopping for leisure; they want to browse for clothes, eat a meal or grab a cup of coffee, as well as do their weekly shop. It offers us a glimpse into what stores of the future might look like and we’re really excited to be sharing that with our customers.'
Meanwhile Mary Portas has recently been discussing how retail has to change on the High Street and become more community focused, much in the same vein as Tesco's concept, offering a hub for the community in the empty shops around the retailers. The aim is to keep our town centres alive by attracting shoppers with crèches, health clinics and other service based businesses, as part of her on-going mission to save the High Street.
“We have been obsessed with high streets being retail. In the future we know that cannot be the case. I would imagine about 30 per cent needs to be the case,”
“We need a new vision, we need to trial new ideas and we need to give opportunities to new businesses. Those could be businesses that are about well-being, health and sports.” said Mary Portas.
So it looks like the future of retail in bricks and mortar terms has to embrace the community and attract people in for experiences whether that be eating, drinking, socialising, exercising, and accessing services alongside retail environments. An evolution of sorts with Tesco trail blazing the way in reaction to consumer trends and needs.
As people move away from the everything under one big brand huge aircraft hanger style supermarkets and frequent independents for the shopping experience, Tesco responds in kind offering a similar experience in-store but with prices that cannot be matched by smaller retailers. Harris and Hoole has for example come under much criticism for masquerading under its original small indie coffee chain roots when actually having since partly been bought out with 49% reportedly now owned by Tesco. It's now out there with the chain being developed within the Tesco Extra stores themselves.
So as supermarkets invest in smaller convenience stores with new openings they are left with what to do with the larger parts of their estates..and smaller more personal shopping experiences are offered under one roof.
We can only wait and see if shoppers will respond well to these new concept stores, there's certainly been a lot of thought and investment in refurbishment and I do think they will be successful. Whether the High Street will evolve in the way Mary Portas and No. 10 want is another matter, perhaps these new stores will be yet another prohibitor of the revival of the great British High Street.