The retail sector represents Ireland’s largest indigenous industry employing almost 280,000 people, accounting for almost 14% of Irish jobs and 23% of the State’s tax revenue.
While retail has been through a period of change over the past decade, with a decline of 40,000 jobs from a peak in 2008, it remains Ireland’s largest employer. Traditionally, growth in retail has kept pace with general economic growth; however economic analysis carried out by IBEC suggests more modest future retail sales with growth of 1.2 – 2.2% expected per annum to 2020. This is due mainly to changing consumer behaviours and technological innovation changing how consumers shop and engage in-store and online.
The digital economy presents significant opportunities given that the share of Irish consumer spending in the digital economy is expected to grow from 7.7% in 2016 to 12.4% by 2021. The value of online spending will almost double, rising from an estimated €7.5bn to €14.1bn, and embracing digital transformation is key to securing a greater share of this growth.
Although Dublin is part of Europe’s fastest growing economy and consumer sentiment is steady, as an industry, retailers need to create and deliver a compelling offer to remain a significant player in this economy.
Consumers are looking for experiences and retailers are offering personalised in-store service like never before.
In a 2017 Retail Excellence Ireland survey, Dundrum Town Centre was identified as the highest performing shopping centre in Ireland with leases close to market rent, a good retail mix and a move towards experiential shopping.
Dundrum Town Centre is Ireland’s most popular shopping destination with 18 million visits per annum. Employing over 5,500 people. Our aim is to ensure this is a destination where customer service expectations in shopping, leisure and dining are met and exceeded. However, we are also striving to create a destination point with unexpected activity designed to delight and surprise. Most recently we opened our Dundrum Garden of Pure Imagination by Diarmuid Gavin. This spectacular garden was showcased in last year’s RHS & Chelsea Flower Show and this is the first time it has appeared in Ireland. The animated garden comes alive every 15 minutes and has drawn crowds from all over the country with a positive impact on our tenants’ businesses.
Recently we have also seen the emergence of online influencers and their role in driving sales particularly within fashion, beauty and lifestyle categories. As these influencers inhabit the world of social media and blogs we see their recommendations fuelling high demand for products and thus footfall to stores and sales online.
One high profile Irish blogger, Suzanne Jackson even coined the term “the So-Sue-e effect” referring to her ability to put a product out-of-stock after a review. There is a scope for retailers to harness the power of these influencers and most recently Dundrum welcomed Pippa O’Connor and her POCO by Pippa pop up shop.
Her range of jeans had only been available online previously. The store created a massive buzz – increasing Dundrum’s footfall by 12% in the opening weekend alone – and attracted shoppers who wanted to explore and experience the POCO by Pippa experience.
This was a brilliant example of how physical retail can blend with online offerings and truly engage with people.
Customers also want restaurants and leisure which brings variety and vibrancy to retail destinations. Food and beverage outlets provide an experience that cannot be replaced wholly online and present an opportunity to increase dwell time and enhance overall customer experience.
The Irish retail industry is built on a solid reputation of unrivalled service. While the only thing that is constant is change, we all need to embrace dynamic trends and technology in order to thrive. We will see a lot of exciting times ahead in retail and you can be sure that Dundrum Town Centre will be at the forefront of them!