The Retail Renaissance: Connection, Wellbeing, and Convenience
By Susan Carter, DIALOG Principal in Calgary, Alberta
Have you ever considered the link between the retail in your life and your quality of life?
In today’s society, the human needs of Connection, Wellbeing, and Convenience will be the driving factors that influence consumers’ decisions about where to live, work and play.
Retail touches all facets of our lives. It’s the daycare down the street, that great coffee shop nestled in the trees where you meet your friends and solve the world’s problems, the grab-and-go healthy foods store that feeds the kids when you don’t have time to cook, the fabulous restaurant to take clients for a business lunch.
What if you could get a workout in before work, go to the dentist or get a massage at lunch, have a few minutes in the sun sipping a cup of coffee, meet friends after work, grab a nutritious meal for the family and a bottle of wine, all before you head home?
Retail environments have the opportunity to stimulate excitement, create a sense of belonging, and ultimately build community wellbeing. Physical retail and the thinking behind what retail can do for a community needs to be looked at differently than in previous years.
Calgary is at a turning point in its history. The dominance of the oil and gas industry over the past 100 years has created real estate assets of large office tenants with spacious, barren lobbies at the base. Fast forward to the desired future of our downtown economy where tech companies dominate the landscape. This modern workforce seeks a mix of flexible spaces, a sense of community, access to rich amenities and services, places for serendipitous encounters, and an improved quality of urban life offering an integrated live-work-play mix. These mixed-use spaces must attract this modern tenant, not solely defined by an age demographic, but rather by behavior and needs. 9-5 is as important as 5-9. The design needs to consider tenant and user personas as they will provide the necessary validation and insights from a customer perspective.
Retail is at its best when it engages with the entire environment. Workplace, residential, events, and arts and culture all need to contribute to one another and respond to what each other needs. It will consider the human needs first while continuing to satisfy the economic needs. It will allow more creative contribution and encourage innovation.
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