The future of retail is…not exactly what you might think.

The retail industry is eager to see what the future holds. Will there be driverless cars? Or robots as sales clerks, and stylists in the form of magic mirrors? While no one has a crystal ball, JLL surveyed 1,500 consumers on their expectations of retailers and shopping experiences in the next decade.

“Successful retailers know that nimbleness and agility are the key to staying ahead of shoppers demands and engrained in their lives. And, while most retailers are employing the latest technology in their quest for shopper acceptance, surprisingly this isn’t always what keeps shoppers satisfied,” said James Cook, Director of Retail Research for JLL. “We surveyed consumers of all generations and what they want more than anything else is skilled customer service, personalization, and convivence — delivered in a fresh new way.

It’s back to getting the basics precise.” Futuristic expectations? Not so much.

Today’s demographics and buying power are putting shoppers in a power position to transform the retail landscape, but there are a lot of people to please – six generations in fact.

Among Seniors, 65.2 percent noted they want skilled customer service. For Boomers, 36.9 percent are looking for more entertainment and dining options, while 41.5 percent of Gen Xers are craving health focused food and beverage retailers. For Xennials, classified as a transition group split between older Millennials and younger Gen Xers, 41.5 percent expect same-day delivery options to be mainstream, whereas 72.6 percent of Millennials are asking that stores remember their personal preferences. Finally, 48.8 percent of Gen Z puts an emphasis on low prices and discounts.

“We’re living in a world of chaotic consumer behavior. They shop around the clock, are in control, collaborate and share their experiences – good and bad – more than any other time in retail. Getting their experience right is going to be critical to retailers and shopping centers as they compete for time, energy, and money,” added Greg Maloney, CEO of JLL Retail.

As retailers and landlords take a closer look at their brand investments and anticipate the changes of new consumer expectations across six generations of shoppers, JLL’s latest report shares key findings on the most important factors to get right.

The Future of Retail is…personal touches and a good time.

Online shopping continues to hover around 10 percent of total retail sales, which means that most people are still walking into a physical store for their shopping.

Across all generations surveyed, an efficient customer experience was critical with more than one-half of respondents indicating a skilled customer service person is the biggest factor in improving their shopping experience. Less than one-third of respondents indicated that some form of technology would make their shopping experience better. But, even more critical is that more than two-thirds indicated that it’s crucial for a retailer to remember their preferences.

Shoppers also want to be wined, dined, entertained, and delighted with 40 percent of customers choosing which center to shop at based on its food offerings. Another nearly 40 percent of shoppers expect to see new and innovative retailers in the next 10 years.

Candytopia, is just one of the retailers, getting experience right. This four-month interactive art installation is a real-life Candyland with a marshmallow tsunami and flying candy unicorns.

…being well and healthy.

There’s no denying that wellness and health is a mainstream concern. Since 2007, the average consumers’ annual out-of-pocket healthcare spending has increased by 23 percent according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This $4.2 trillion-dollar industry is only growing and, in response, shoppers are increasingly looking for ways to indulge in experiences that promote well-being.

JLL found that more than 40 percent of people want to see open green spaces in their shopping centers, while another nearly 40 percent are seeking stores that provide healthy food and drink options while they shop. A mere 17 percent of shoppers want a gym at their shopping center, however the number of fitness tenant move-ins at shopping centers grew by 13.8 percent from 2017 to 2018.

“We see consumers growing need for greater convenience, service, and support from their healthcare providers. While only 10 percent of U.S. shopping centers have a healthcare-related tenant, the number of healthcare retail clinics could double by 2022. Nearly 20 percent of respondents are seeking these kinds of tenants, and it’s expected that more shopping centers will integrate them going forward,” added Maloney.


JLL found that 70 percent of Millennials and Gen Zers are willing to partake in the sharing economy.

These environmentally conscious generations are leading the charge for shared products and services. Dissatisfied with the amount of consumer waste, these generations are increasingly interested in product sustainability and minimizing their carbon footprints. JLL found that more than one-half (57.3%) of shoppers are willing to rent trendy, well-made products – with the more than 20 percent willing to rent clothing and jewelry and another nearly 20 percent willing to rent electronics.

Retailers are also taking note of the sharing economy with the emergence of retail marketplaces, that offer a collection of mostly digitally native brands that live under one roof. Retailer Neighborhood Goods curates cool, emerging brands on a rotating basis and offers a bar and restaurant for shoppers.

…seamless technology.

While JLL found that shoppers aren’t expecting futuristic technology in their shopping experience, they are looking for an interactive, but frictionless, retail experience. Shopping centers and retailers now have the tools to bring immersive experiences that make shopping easier, while at the same time optimizing operations and becoming more efficient. The use of technology will be most appreciated by shoppers when it advances store efficiency – like improvement in inventory management or logistics that allows for same-day delivery.

Experiences with clunky self-checkout stations and automated phone attendants have left shoppers leery of robot retail. Only a little more than 10 percent of shoppers expect to see customer service robots in stores in the next 10 years, but shoppers are laser focused on expediency and ease of use with more than one-third expecting seamless checkouts.

“The next generation of augmented reality experiences will allow shoppers to see a new world of incredible and engaging seamless experiences that will forever change the way they shop. Products will come to life and tell you about themselves, give you coupons for purchasing them, and even suggest related complementary products. It will also allow entire stores to come to life, with virtual consultants, characters, signage, and product offerings – all providing a personalized, delightful, cost-effective, and highly efficient shopping experience that’s specifically contoured for each shopper,” said Ed LaHood, CEO of Thyng and the Thyng Augmented Reality platform.

To learn more, download the full report.

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