Westfield Stratford City opened its doors for the first time last month and 200,000 eager consumers poured through them, reportedly spending an astonishing £20m in the first week. Wow! What happened to the cost-cutting count-every-penny economy?
The shopping centre was planned back in 2004 when we consumers were spending cash like it was going out of fashion. But even now it has actually gone out of fashion we still can’t resist the allure of bright and shiny new shops. What’s wrong with us? Are we simpletons? Well when it comes to our emotions, the answer is a rather resounding yes we are. We like feeling good, and shopping – in the right environment – can be just as much of a turn on as sex or chocolate.
The majority of adult retailers can’t just open a store in a location like Westfield Stratford City but they can try to incorporate the emotion of ‘feeling good’ into their shop. As Nick Hewson of market analysts Hewson Group says in this issue: “Pleasure goods is one of the sectors with the opportunity to provide a much more immersive and enticing customer experience. Women should walk into a store and not want to leave. Moreover, they should want to go back. We already see very different purchasing patterns in boutiques that get close to this.”
Back in 2008 Hewson Group forecast that the UK High Street market for women’s pleasure products could reach £1bn by 2013. He still thinks that figure is achievable but not for a few more years. What’s stopping it, in his opinion, is the existing retail infrastructure. More of Nick’s opinions, together with information about and from his Women Sex and Shopping report, can be found on page 28 of the October issue of ETO.
And finally, I’d just like to offer my congratulations to the owners of Mrs Palm in Truro (see front page of ETO October issue). They have been the victims of continual, quite nasty at times, harassment ever since they decided to open a store over a year ago. Now the case has finally been concluded the only thing I would say to the enemies of Mrs Palm is Matthew 7:1. They really shouldn’t need to Google it.