Greener stores improve retail profits

1st February 2016


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  • Built environment ,
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  • Property

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Retailers are missing an opportunity to increase sales by designing stores with good levels of daylight, fresh air and greenery, a study has found.

Retail outlets account for almost half (43%) of the total value of commercial buildings in the UK and are the biggest emitters of CO2 in the commercial property sector, according to the World Green Building Council (WGBC).

The council is urging retailers to measure the impact of the design of stores and shopping centres on profit levels. This can be done using data they may already have, it said.

The organisation has developed a tool to help retailers make the connection between environmental and economic performance. Retailers should first consider the physical features of the retail setting, such as air quality, thermal comfort, artificial lighting and daylight, noise, views and greenery, and the impact these have on consumers and employees.

They should then carry out surveys of staff and customers to understand perceptions of the space they work and shop in as well as identify the organisational and financial outcomes that may be impacted by this environment. These include absenteeism and staff retention for employees and sales, footfall and loyalty for consumers, it said.

The report highlights evidence the WGBC has gathered on how sustainable retail environments can potentially be more profitable. Research by the International Council for Shopping Centres, for example, found that connected sets of uncovered stores with pedestrianised walkways and greater connections with nature perform better than conventional shopping centres, with consumers visiting more stores more frequently.

Meanwhile, Walmart recorded significantly higher sales per square foot in the part of a pilot store illuminated daylight.

John Alker, policy and campaign director, UK Green Building Council, which led work on the report, said: ‘This should be a wake up call for retailers and those with a stake in retail property. They are sitting on a potential gold-mine of data, which can help cement the business case for investing in health, greener stores – both new build and refurbishment.’

Other companies involved in the research include Arup, CBRE, JLL, the Crown Estate, Marks & Spencer and Kingfisher Group.

The WGBC’s research on retail environments is similar to that carried out in office environments. This found that sustainable offices improved staff health and retention.

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