A sense of nostalgia sees retailing go full circle


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Fashion famously goes round in cycles – no sooner have we bid a (not so) fond farewell to the mini dress, the maxi dress is in. And nobody would have ever thought they’d welcome a midi length with open arms – least of all in combination with flats or brogues. I’ve recently been observing how other areas in retailing seem to be going full circle too; an air of nostalgia seems to be an increasing theme in retailing at the moment. Vinyl sales – for example – are at their highest since 1996, as we for a taste of how things used to be. With such affection for days gone by, I wonder what could be next…

I proudly read the only real book by the poolside on holiday – among a sea of e-readers – and apparently I’m in good company with the news that Kindle sales have apparently collapsed, while book sales have risen by 5%. A fellow holiday maker remarked that it was nice to actually see what people are reading, as you are clueless with electronic reader.
At the tills, how many retailers are consciously replacing plastic carrier bags with brown paper ones? Primark have of course done it for years, but increasingly bags are eco-friendly – just as they used to be. Even my Tesco online shopping delivery has the vegetables in brown paper bags now.

I wonder if we’ll start to see a resurgence for physical shopping as opposed to the focus on online? Do we actually all miss the old days of meeting a friend for coffee and wandering the shops as we catch up. Those wine-fuelled lunches followed by a (perhaps ill-advised !) purchase?

In the run-up to the election, Boris Johnson visited my local town of Teddington – a high street famous for the flourishing independent retailers it hosts. This enclave of SW London positively embraces the unique and individual, through a selection of homeware, fashion and gift emporiums. While they sit alongside major names like Tesco Metro and M&S Simply Food, there are no chain names to be seen. It’s an echo of years gone by, and proudly so.

So what might be next in this “let’s go round again” retailing merry-go-round? It would be lovely to see a marrying of all the new technological advances (payment methods, effective merchandising management etc) alongside the great retailing as a day out, a destination experience. And any shift back to a lifestyle where money is going into the tills and profits are climbing for our retailers seems like a great idea to me.

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