Too many predictions for the future of retail are besotted with transferring the techniques of online shopping to -invariably large- high street stores, says Commercial Property Advisors (CPA) .
The emphasis is always on "data exploitation". Common to all forecasts is "personalised" shopping (constructed in the most impersonal and technologically obscure ways!), and creating , not shops, but "experiential spaces."
One retail consultant goes so far as to predict:"We envision stores becoming ...fulfilment centres to create a full omnichannel experience." (Phew!)
Rather than adapting wholesale the tropes of online commerce to the world of bricks and mortar business, CPA believes it is wiser to consider a more nuanced, subtle approach to improving the vexed relationship between online and offline retailing. Can a more symbiotic, mutually sustaining relationship be devised, whereby, through smart application of the proposed digital sales tax, internet businesses are obliged to re-direct tax to the high street, particularly to local independent entrepreneurs?
In the same way that large chain stores were once regarded as the saviour of the high street, CPA now believes firmly that future retail sales will increasingly derive from innovative local initiatives, funded in part from online competitors.