There’s a quiet revolution underway that’s changing the face of retail in Britain. A decade ago, savvy shoppers kept their eyes peeled for a bargain, paving the way for the rise of discounters who rode the crest of a wave in the wake of the Credit Crunch. Fast forward to 2020 and the consumer mindset has radically shifted. Now, shoppers no longer make decisions based on price alone: ethics and sustainability have risen to the top of the agenda.
A report in industry title Retail Week laid bare the ramifications of the spending transformation: “Eco-conscious consumers vote with their wallets. Actions speak louder than words.” The magazine added: “Consumers no longer buy simply on price or brand name. There are a variety of macro-trends that influence how they live, feel, communicate and shop.” The editorial pointed out that where discounters locked in price wars had led the agenda for years, “diversity and sustainability” were the new battle lines. Retail experts pinpointed how younger consumers see through hollow messages and demand real action instead.
Environmentalism has been propelled into mainstream thinking by the likes of teenage activist Greta Thunberg who put the climate crisis on the world stage. A rise in activism, driven by growing occurrences of weather extremes such as wildfires and record-breaking heatwaves, is disrupting the traditional consumer marketplace, as shoppers become more aware of the effect of their actions on the planet.
A recent report by John Lewis, often regarded as the barometer of retail health, confirmed that environmentalism is no longer a niche but is now firmly embedded in UK retail. Consumers are making “small but significant changes in their lifestyles and routines,” said the retailer, which has forecasted that “looking after the environment is expected to remain at the forefront of shoppers’ minds in 2020”. John Lewis’s report is reinforced by its trading figures, which saw sales of steel straws soar by 1,573% ahead of the incoming ban on plastic straws, while sales of re-useable water bottles shot-up by 15% in the run-up to the Glastonbury music festival in 2019, which banned the sale of single-use plastic bottles on-site.
Eco-friendly innovation, however, is not limited to High Street retailers. Garden centres have long been at the forefront of stocking products that champion environmental preservation. This spring, the once traditional outdoor furniture category is set for a radical transformation. The arrival of DuraOcean®, the world’s first commercially viable mass-market outdoor chair made from nets, ropes and plastic waste recovered from the world’s oceans – is nothing short of a game-changer for the sector. With public concern over ocean plastic waste at an all-time high since Blue Planet II aired on the BBC, retailers can embrace the sales potential of DuraOcean®, reaping the benefits of a product that celebrates ‘closed-loop thinking’ by re-engineering former marine waste into one of the most desirable and fully recyclable outdoor furniture items on the market.
With DuraOcean® having already been crowned Best New Product at the SOLEX exhibition in 2019, and LifestyleGarden®'s new 2020 ranges carrying Eden Project branding thanks to a new licensing partnership, DuraOcean® is just one of a host of innovative materials from LifestyleGarden® that are set to help retailers propel sustainability to the forefront of their outdoor living sales areas.
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