In my last post, we discussed the various drivers impacting the way retailers and operators are adapting to the way we shop. Although the CEE region is playing catch-up with other global regions, improving infrastructure, combined with an increase in technological investment by retailers and retail property owners, is helping to provide a more cohesive experience to consumers. Let’s look specifically at the impact on retail store layouts.

Impact on store layouts

While the most obvious change to formats resulting from e-commerce and new in-store technology would seem to be the smaller store footprints, our observations to date show no clear indication that the size of retail stores are shrinking generally in the CEE region — at least not across the fashion and grocery subsectors.

The exception to this trend is brown or white goods. Some retailers are opting for a showroom-style brick-and-mortar store, typically on a smaller floor-plate, where consumers can browse inventory in-store and then order online. The trend, which has been noticeable in Poland and Russia in particular, is essentially omnichannel retailing.

However, to remain competitive and move into multichannel and omnichannel shopping space, many retailers are making physical store changes:

Despite these examples of how retailers are using sophisticated technology, there are a large number of shopping centers yet to adopt technology. While some centers now provide Wi-Fi, a large number don’t. There is probably no easier way to attract the discerning consumer, especially the younger generation who are constantly attached to their smartphone. The subsequent ability to gather big data to monitor visitor or customer habits and consumer flows around a center and then target consumers with specific direct marketing messages is a wasted sales and strategic planning opportunity.

Consumers are increasingly discerning

The sooner retailers do this, the better: Discretionary consumer spending is harder to come by. In 2009, household disposable income in the CEE region declined by an average of 6%. Annual growth rates post-crisis have been 2%, compared to more than 10% before the crisis. Conversely, consumer expectations have been on the increase as they seek greater value, access, transparency and convenience when they shop. While some of this is price-driven, the advancements in technology during the last five years have intensified the desire for a better service experience.

Average Annual Growth Rate of Household Disposable Income — CEE region


With consumer behavior likely to become more discerning and retail format offerings increasingly competitive and divergent, there will be increasing pressure on retailers and shopping center owners and asset managers to deploy innovative solutions and strong branding to maintain competitiveness. As technological and operating model changes impact the physical layout of the store, we could see a repricing of retail space in the long term. Retail is getting a lot more interesting.

Damian Harrington is Director and Head of Research for Colliers International in EMEA. He has lived and worked across the region, has a focus on investment and a love of “all things shed,” even the garden variety.