Kirsty Bisset
Kirsty Bisset

#HOPE: Consumers still want to shop

By Kirsty Bisset, HYH Durban MD. The hope for retail in 2023 will be malls that give people things to do, besides shopping - retail innovation coupled with experiences.

By Kirsty Bisset, HYH Durban MD. Hands up all those who just could not help themselves – the switch was labelled ‘do not push’ but you went ahead and pushed it anyway! It seems the human brain – for a good number of us – is simply wired to want what we cannot have. And shopping during lockdown, or the prohibition of it and the mall outings shopping usually entails, built in for consumers, an almost insatiable desire to shop.

Kirsty Bisset

And despite them turning en masse to online retail; and despite lockdown mall closures being a thing of the past, consumers are still feeling that ‘itch’, that urge to trawl. This should give hope to retailers and mall management for 2023. Yes, money is tight, but folks still want to spend it. But I’d like to suggest another way of tapping into this consumer behaviour. One that is built on my belief that I don’t think the desire is to shop, to be in a mall per se… I think the key driver is to be ‘doing’, to be ‘experiencing’.

In other words, the hope for retail in 2023 will be malls that give people things to do, besides shopping. So, if malls were to change their retail mix to create a retail ecosystem that is unique for each, they’ll give consumers a reason to go to a host of different malls, instead of just the one. This thinking understands that retail real estate’s future depends on how well it can connect buyers to their values and aspirations, as well as its imagination.

But the desire for experiences, wants, and needs of humans can remain relatively unchanged over time. Unless your retail environment or brand creates trends, you’ll always be chasing after the future. Cue ‘innovation’ – the true retail holy grail will be innovation coupled with experiences.


Of course, once you establish a customer experience you create an expectation. This means the culture of the organisation must be open to vertical and horizontal communication and feedback. It also means retailers will need to be very smart operationally, because the inability to continuously meet those expectations will lead to failures.

Product, service, supply chain and data reliability, as well as how effective we are at using all of these and interacting with consumers, are key factors in today’s success, as technology and innovation continue to evolve.

When you have hope, you are looking forward. You take comfort and gain energy in the feeling of potential. That’s why I feel a Retail Renaissance awaits us in 2023.


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