Gone are the days of multi level, closed-in malls being the ultimate shopping experience, as in every other aspect of life, consumers are demanding variety, authenticity and constant change. The way forward is in "lifestyle centres" that offer a constantly evolving mix of restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and more.
Auckland's Britomart is a good example. Born from a partnership between the city council and developer Peter Cooper, the precinct began with the largest restoration of historic buildings in the country. Today, those restored buildings provide a sustainable, soulful framework for the ever-changing, eclectic 6.5 hectare precinct.
Britomart's focus has always been broad rather than focused on only one sector, such as food and beverage. Instead, dining, beauty services, fashion and corporate business all sit together. Within the food and beverage and retail categories, the choices vary from burgers to fine dining and sportswear to high fashion.
When Tiffany & Co's flagship store joined the ranks in 2016, it somehow felt at home alongside Kiwi designer fashion, burger joints and cocktail bars. Just as the area's heritage sites work beautifully with groundbreaking, architecturally designed new additions.
Focused on holistic wellness and conscious living, today's consumer is more aware of space and their community than ever before. To be successful, today's retail centre needs less mass-production, more thought and a genuine focus on ambience.
Modern retail development should encompass shared space where pedestrian safety and interaction is paramount communal eating and socialising areas, living walls and gardens, restored and repurposed buildings, and nooks and crannies that are amenable and interesting.
As evidenced in other corners of the globe such as New York's Soho or central Melbourne, where this kind of development was pioneered, the most successful in new retail precincts have personalities both figurative and literal. The shopkeepers, bar owners and baristas who customers grow to know and love are hugely important.