Sharing a retail space is not a recent occurrence. Despite the recent rising popularity of small businesses occupying the same retail space, larger businesses have been doing so for many years. Supermarkets are a well-known example. Companies, such as Asda and Tesco, have long been hosting other, supporting and complementary businesses within their large store spaces successfully. Since the businesses share their custom, as well as the overhead costs, there is greater benefit and less risk involved than with finding one’s own space on the high street.
Younger businesses are adopting the shared retail style to enable them to launch new concepts safely. It can now be common for a barbershop to be found within a men’s clothing store. It is likely that those looking for a new outfit may also be inclined to consider a haircut too. In addition, hospitality concepts are also opening within various retail spaces and offices. Similar to how restaurants and cafes have become established within supermarkets, speciality coffee shops and bakers are able to launch themselves or pop-up in already established businesses.
Another benefit can be the potential brand association. Since branding is now such an important factor, it can be a huge benefit for newly-established businesses to find space within a site that can add a positive association to their style and image. This is seen often with make-up companies collaborating with fashion and lifestyle brands who share the same demographics.
The growing popularity of collective retail spaces has led to the creative use of retail spaces. Businesses want to be able to establish and advertise their brand while not hindering those partner brands around them. This calls for a different type of retail furniture than we find in single-brand spaces.
For example, vertical space cannot be used as easily in the center of the floor. It is likely to obscure other displays and advertisements from being seen. To counter this problem, businesses are instead working with open-plan spaces and using shelving and slatwall panels to build upon wall space.
Alongside consideration for unobtrusive retail furniture, businesses are also searching for designs that active fit a larger aesthetic. Building counters and display stands from the same type of woods or drawing from the same pool of accessories helps the individual businesses work in tandem.
The layout of these stores is quite different from what many customers may be used to. It can be quite a shock to be browsing vinyl one moment and then find yourself in opticians; however, it will only become more common.
As the high street becomes increasingly competitive, customers are only going to see shared retail spaces become more common. It will not only be restricted to developing business concepts either and there are already major brands being brought into a common space. Companies like Sainsbury’s and Argos, for instance, made a big move to share retail spaces and are doing so with some success.
While it is difficult to guess at how the high street may look in twenty years, we can already see that there is a call for a different type of retail space. One that is more versatile and, ultimately, shared.