Blog: The Future of Retail Post Lockdown
Architect, Anita Rebaudo has been considering the future of retail post lockdown in her latest blog. Anita has been working with the White Rose shopping centre in Leeds for over 12 years placing her in the perfect position to support them in reimagining shopping experiences post lockdown.
The future of retail post lockdown is unknown but the reality is that the high street and shopping centres will soon be able to fully open their doors again. With this in mind, I have been working with the White Rose and Landsec in Leeds to review their public spaces and propose how they could function under government conditions for requirements such as social distancing.
The most important consideration when planning retail space has always been customer experience. Post lockdown a significant part of this experience will involve making people feeling safe in public areas.
To ensure that everyone feels safe and that government guidelines are adhered to, the following areas/factors should be considered:
- Assess all public areas to review how many people can comfortably enter the space while ensuring that all customers and families can maintain a social distance of two metres.
- Investigate the customer flow and consider new pathways considered, buildings which benefit from a wide floor plate will make a one-way system easily adoptable
- Entry points must be considered to inform an evaluation of the public access and egress routes. If there are multiple entry points identified it will assist with proposing a user-friendly one-way entry/exit system without the need for extended diversions.
- Access and use of public WCs, to be considered with areas identified as potential queuing zones.
- Additional signage is required to give customers and employees the confidence to navigate the previously well-known spaces under the new social distancing conditions. Signage should also be adopted to inform the public of any increased hygiene procedures that might be in place.
- Review the potential to increase customer service personnel to assist and direct customers in managing social distancing and to answer any queries.
Looking at the future, I can see positive opportunities for the evolution of design emerging from what we’ve learned during the pandemic. For example, social distancing results in the need to design enlarged spaces which could naturally lead to better access for all. This could morph into a future where accessibility will be integrated seamlessly, and thus more beautifully, into architecture.