Hyperphysical Stores

type - trends
sector - retail
In a post-Covid landscape, changing consumer needs are driving retailers to rethink bricks-and-mortar stores to be more engaging, sensorial and memorable

Drivers: what’s happening

While e-commerce is accelerating to offer multi-layered and sometimes confusing experiences for customers and brands, bricks-and-mortar shops are becoming bastions of extraordinary, sensorial moments. These next-generation spaces can be seen through the lens of hyperphysicality; that is, the essential soulfulness required in physical spaces in the wake of global lockdowns.

Exploring the idea of hyperphysicality, business analyst Marie Dollé emphasises that it’s about ‘giving a ‘higher life’ to physical spaces and objects, and injecting culture to get us out of our cocoons.’ In this vein, architect Thomas Heatherwick explains: ‘The physical world has to be really conscious of how its going to connect with your feelings and emotions because [physical spaces are] not this automatic thing that you have to engage with as much as you did in the past.

Now, retailers must entice consumers with meaningful spaces and experiential services that elevate the traditional experience of being in a store. This desire for more engaging shopping experiences is particularly apparent across Europe. An Epson survey found that 75% of European shoppers – and over 80% of Millennials and Gen Z – said they would change their shopping behaviour if high street stores were more experiential.

Published by:

15 June 2022

Author: Abi Buller and Savannah Scott

Image: Web-3 Café by Crosby Studios and Gaia Repossi


Louis Vuitton Maison at Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li, Chengdu

Case studies: what’s new

Perplexing Tech

In a rapidly evolving technology landscape, various tools and strategies have been enticing retailers to explore new ways to market and sell products, from social media marketplaces to live-stream retail and metaverse storefronts. Yet, with just 16% of Americans able to define what the metaverse is, according to Ipsos, operators are being challenged not to run into virtual retail realms before they can walk.

One reason is patience. As explored in The Focus Filter, brands are fighting for people’s attention amid ceaseless distractions, especially online. Analysis by America’s National Retail Federation shows that when it comes to live-stream retail, Millennials and Baby Boomers are less likely to have the time or patience to keep track of product drops or demos.

Convenience Fatigue

In the era of Eco-venient Retail, shoppers are now more aware of ways to balance expedited delivery and access to products with greener processes. Despite accelerating e-commerce, however, there is a side effect: consumers are still drawn to the tactility of physical stores.

According to a study by consultancy PwC, nearly half (48%) of global consumers make purchases inside a physical store at least once a week, compared to 41% who do the same on their mobile or smartphone. And while some shoppers are having to tighten their belts, they still see the value in physical stores: Gen Z (45%) are as likely to have shopped in stores over the past12 months as Baby Boomers (44%).

Indisposable Income

The impact of Covid-19, ongoing job insecurities and the increasing cost of living are threatening to reduce disposable income across global nations, while fostering behaviours centred on fiscal security and frugality.

Research from Citizens Advice finds that, to save money, one in five people in the UK cut back on their food shop (19%) or used less heating (20%) in the last quarter of 2021. Dame Clare Moriarty, CEO of Citizens Advice, says: ‘All of us are noticing our bills go up, but for people on the tightest budgets there’s simply nothing left to cut back on.’

Meanwhile, global unemployment is expected to stand at 205m people in 2022, greatly surpassing the 187mrecorded pre-pandemic in 2019. Considering the long-term scarring of the pandemic on global economies, the worst affected regions for unemployment in the first half of 2021 were Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Central Asia (source: International Labour Organization).

‘In this next chapter of retail innovation, many store environments will be less about selling products and more about providing us with enriching, emotional, ethereal and exclusive experiences’
Martin Raymond, co-founder of The Future Laboratory

Want to unlock more?
This is a taster of the content we publish for members of LS:N Global

Sign up to our trends intelligence platform LS:N Global and get unlimited access to a hive of insights - from microtrends and macro trends to market reports, daily news, research across eight industry sectors.


Already a member? Click here to login