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Goodbye Shopping Centers, Hello ‘Centers’: 6 Retail Predictions For 2030


Shoppers in the year 2030 will find themselves in an entirely different retail landscape. Retail centers of the future will become just "centers," by reinventing themselves as mixed-use hubs. As the rise of new urbanism leads to a resurgence in town squares and compact walkable communities, these spaces will also feature healthcare, educational and leisure venues.

The focus of traditional gas stations will also change, as they become important mini-logistic hubs, even serving as pickup points for online shoppers. Ownership of electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles will become more common, and there will be an increased need for fast charging points.

These are not predictions from a sci-fi novel. They are new insights from the “Future of Retail 2030,” a series from CBRE.

“Retail will evolve at a quickening pace, reshaping the roles of the shopping center, the gas station and the store,” CBRE Director of Global Retail Research Natasha Patel said. “The speed of change may catch some people by surprise, as the mindset and requirements of the consumer will evolve more quickly than the industry can adapt.  This means that investors and occupiers need to get ahead of the changing trends rather than catching up.”

CBRE’s "Future of Retail 2030" examines 40 insights on how the world of retail will change in the future, shaped by changes across consumer lifestyles, urban environments, retail operations, logistics and other trends affecting the industry. 

CBRE revealed six of those trends in early November at MAPIC, the retail real estate conference in France.


1. Smartphones will no longer exist, but mobile commerce will grow 

As augmented and virtual reality matures, there will be a decrease in the overall dependency on smartphones. Instead, smaller and wearable gadgets will connect people to the Internet of Things and provide access to most information and services. Retailers and landlords will need to prepare to provide digitally enabled environments that can leverage consumer connectivity. These environments will need to complement — not compete — with consumers’ devices.

2. Independent stores and food and beverage operators will be more prevalent

Retail destinations will feature unique offerings curated toward local clientele. Retail chains will begin to further develop local concepts and brand names to give the appearance of independence and to craft a personalized shopping experience. 

3. The in-store checkout desk will be replaced by faster, cashless ways to pay 

Many retailers have already taken away the physical checkout desk. This is likely to continue as technology plays an increasingly important role as an enabler of retail sales. Technology will have an impact on the human aspect of retail. The number of retail assistants required in this part of the customer’s in-store experience will decrease as transactions occur at the tap of a screen.

4. Fitting rooms will customize the shopping experience

Technology will allow customers to try on an outfit in a virtual environment and show items already owned in combination with the item being considered for purchase. Fitting room technology will also allow the customer to request a different size or style via a touch screen. This will eliminate the need to leave the fitting room. 

5. The number of wellness establishments will grow

As millennials continue to show a greater interest in looking and feeling good, fitness centers will become commonplace in malls, urban areas and new residential properties. Unlike the gyms of the past, these centers will offer more than free weights and a cardio area. Classes like SoulCycle offer specialty workouts that keep fitness enthusiasts in shape and excited. 

6. Retail will be leisure

As stores become showrooms, in-store leisure elements will dramatically increase. The divide between retail and leisure will become blurred as retail brands address the need for an experience in their store. Sports apparel brands like Nike have already experimented with this model, adding basketball courts and virtual reality treadmills to their flagship retail locations.

“These insights are wide-ranging, but we do see common themes,” CBRE Executive Managing Director of Retail Advisory & Transaction Services Anthony Buono said. “Customers want quick access to goods and services across any and all channels, and they want meaningful experiences around their purchases, be that education, entertainment or wellness.”

To learn more about CBRE’s "Future of Retail 2030," click here