Healthier, Greener Retail Developments are Reaping Rewards
A new report from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has found that consumers are turning away from “grey box retailers” while retail environments that enhance the customer experience are driving greater profits.
In the days when consumers can sit in the comfort of their own home and shop online they are increasingly spurning dull, artificially lit shopping malls
in favour of pleasant and relaxing retail destinations with ample natural light and leafy outdoor spaces to do their physical shopping.
The report, Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Retail: The Impact of Green Buildings
on People and Profit, found that most retailers and developers are missing opportunities to better understand how the physical retail environment can impact staff, customers and business performance.
Emerging evidence, outlined in the WorldGBC’s report, includes:
- Research by the International Council of Shopping Centres, which suggests that lifestyle centres – connected sets of uncovered stores with pedestrianised walkways that incorporate nature – perform better than conventional malls, with increased numbers of stores visited and higher numbers of repeat visits.
- US retail giant Walmart’s findings that areas of stores flooded with natural light during the day deliver higher sales per square metre than areas that are artificially lit.
- Research suggesting that customers are more likely to buy more merchandise in stores with natural surroundings. Customers rate spaces with greenery as friendlier, say they would stay longer and visit more frequently, and would be willing to pay a higher price for the same product.
“The days of ‘grey box retailers’ are numbered,” says WorldGBC Chief Executive Officer, Terri Willis. “This report is about empowering retailers to look within their own properties to understand and monetise how better, more sustainable physical environments can drive profit.”
According to Romilly Madew, Chief Executive Officer of the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and WorldGBC board member, retailers that embrace sustainability will have an unassailable market advantage for years to come.
“Sustainability has been business-as-usual in the commercial office market for some time. More than 650 office projects around the country have Green Star ratings, and a quarter of Australia’s CBD office space is Green-Star certified,” says Ms Madew.
“While movement has been slower in the retail sector – with 33 centres achieving Green Star ratings – the industry’s leaders are now seizing the sustainability agenda and this report will undoubtedly spur them on.”
Stockland now has 13 Green Star ratings for retail centres, while Frasers Property Australia gained Australia’s first 6 Star Green Star – Retail Centre v1 for The Ponds in 2015. Coles achieved a 4 Star Green Star rating for its Hallam store in south-east Melbourne and Khathmandu opened its first Gree Star-registered retail store in 2015.
“Sustainability isn’t a fad or a fashion,” says Ms Madew. “This report should serve as a reminder for any decision-makers in the retail sector who may be wondering whether sustainability makes sense. As the business case continues to build, retailers who embrace the opportunities for healthier, greener buildings will reap the rewards.”