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Interview for Fortune Magazine (Greece) 21 February 2019 - Patrick Dixon gave a keynote on retail trends for Lamda Developments in Athens.

How do you see the future of retail globally and e-commerce? 

Mega-chains will dominate retail growth across Greek cities, in traditional retail and online.

In many EU nations, 70% of all retail spending is already in just four or five retail chains, and across the EU as a whole, 50% of all food sales take place in just ten chains. National price wars will become regional price wars. 

Sales by chains in the EU will continue to grow fast – 25% growth over the last 14 years, but their retail floor space has grown at twice that rate, so their productivity has fallen. And the value of total EU food sales has also fallen over the last 15 years, with a recent small upturn at economies have improved. One reason is that more people are eating out more often, and this will continue.

VIDEO OF PART OF KEYNOTE ON FUTURE OF RETAIL

We see many more shopping centres, but for every square metre of new space, another metre has to close, especially with sales shifting so rapidly online. Therefore, expect huge pressure on rents for commercial retail, and loss of large numbers of smaller stores. 

Many large out-of-town grocery stores will close across Western Europe over the next decade, as middle-class shoppers shift from large weekly purchases, to buying food from local stores – most sales from people less than 700 metres away.

Competing on price alone will mean a downward spiral and low profits.  Apart from scale, the best way to compete will be to stay very small, trading from local market stalls, street corners, or on eBay as a specialist retailer.  

Street markets will continue to be popular: providing buzz, energy, ‘street atmosphere’, local variety. Larger chains will create more market-stall atmospheres in parts of their retail areas. All in response to the greatest challenge of all to traditional retail grocery ‒ boredom with a few large chains, all very similar. Customers want consistency, but they also need to explore and be excited.

How is digital tech transforming retail and customer behaviour? 

The web is making customers very impatient.  Every second counts. You can loose easily 75% of mobile online sales on a website where pages take over 5 seconds to load.  

Global e-commerce sales will be $5 trillion by 2025, from more than $2.6 trillion in 2018, mostly on mobile devices.  

Amazon is now the world’s third largest retailer after companies like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco, with $232bn of sales a year.

Over 30% of all UK shopping apart from groceries is already online, growing at 10% a year, mostly via mobiles.

E-commerce is growing at 30% a year in Asia. These are pointers to the future of Greek retail.

In Greece, EU5bn is already spent online, mainly on shoes, clothes and electronic devices - over 3% of the entire economy, and 25% of this is bought on smartphones. 

Forget about shopping online or offline – both are merging into one. Someone standing in your Athens store is probably searching your competitor’s website at the same time. Online sales will be an even greater threat to traditional retailing in Greece than large chains or budget warehouses. 

Shopping malls will need to become complete leisure destinations – experience, fun, entertainment, eating out – to compete with online.

Expect huge growth in click and collect, where goods are delivered to somewhere other than your home.  Same hour delivery will be common people in many cities, for a premium price.

For more:

Fortune magazine - article (in Greek) and video


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