Blog: Consumers dominate WRC agenda

Joe Ayling | 8 May 2009

The final day of this week's World Retail Congress in Barcelona feels more uplifting than the start of the event did.

This morning's talk of emerging markets provided more proof there is opportunity despite the downturn.

Delegates here have already been told that the future of retailing embraces technology and the internet, while the consumer has rarely been in a more powerful situation.

The 800 attendees at this year's event are down 300 on last year, indicative of numerous cutbacks reported in the sector, and those who made the journey to Barcelona want value for their money.

The question on everyone's lips is when economic recovery will begin, and the blanket answer is 'I don't know'.

However, we heard on the first day that signs of 'bottoming out' are already being seen, and there is a general feeling that 2010 will mark this recovery.

Meanwhile, delegates here were enthused to hear visions of retail in the future from students yesterday (8 May), and London's Fashion Retail Academy emerged as the winner of the Retail Futures Challenge at last night's Gala Dinner Awards.

They will pilot their social networking retail concept, called updatemywarderobe.com, in 2012, signalling the transition towards more interactive and convenient shopping in the future.

This year's congress has signalled a change in mood among the slightly depleted audience here in Spain, who are desperate for the 'green shoots' of economic recovery to appear.

Encouragingly, there is also a consensus that when they do the retail landscape will be trimmer, more efficient and better tuned into consumer sentiment – on which they all rely.

After all, without fashion consumers none of us would even be here: so perhaps 'World Consumer Congress' would be a better name for next year's event.

Joe Ayling, news editor.

 


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