For now the full time whistle has been blown on live sport. However sport is on the rise close to home. In a post-Covid-19 world NZ sports retailers are strategically planning a return to market and the next phase of business. Online sales can never fully substitute brick and mortar store appeal for consumers who will always want to see, touch and feel the brand.
Rent relief has been sought, funding put in place, online systems maximised and the best customer centric staff retained. After that, sport retailers will be working hard to gain the trust and foot traffic of New Zealanders – by creating brick and mortar store environments and sales propositions that are not only safe, but have great appeal to their retail sports customers.
Growing trends in athleissure and wellness
Changes in shopping behaviour will be inevitable as we work through and adapt to the new norm. Importantly the trends we were seeing before the pandemic in the retail sport space are undoubtedly even more prevalent. They include athleisure, wellness trends, and the casualisation of working dress codes. The identified trends are even more relevant with an increasing number of working hours being conducted from home, as well as a new-found focus on personal fitness and health post lockdown.
The human element in shopping
What’s more, as humans we are social creatures – it’s in our DNA to seek personal interaction and entertainment. Shopping outings satisfy our human needs for socialisation and therefore well-operated retail stores (despite challenges) will always offer a successful sales medium. Even with introduction of the internet, e-commerce and online shopping, the predicted demise of the brick and mortar store has never come to fruition for this very reason.
Above all, we have been starved of watching and playing our favourite sports! Consumers will be lining up to get out of their bubbles. One of their first stops will be to buy ‘non-essential’ sporting equipment and clothing needed to get moving again. Therefore capturing and satisfying those consumers is now paramount to the survival of retail sport brands.
Global online retailers may have satisfied a temporary gap in the market. After that we’re picking a new-found sense of loyalty from Kiwis. They will seek to support their favourite local retail sports brands, and in turn support the local community and economy. In addition, we can expect main shopping centre players – the likes of AMP Capital, Westfield, NZRPG, NZKIP – to be innovative and proactive in attracting customers back to their malls.
Thriving in the new retail environment
Of course with the economic shakedown it will be those sporting retail shops with a differentiated shopping experience that will survive in the long run. Whether it’s based around strong brands, regional focus, designer trends, after-sales service, value add and history/reputation, opportunities will certainly present themselves. Together with an online presence, the brick and mortar store customer experience and design will now be more important than ever.
Wall panels to brand build & personalise the in-store experience
For over 10 years Muros has helped some of NZ and Australia’s best loved sporting retailers. The brief has been to help their brand build and contribute positively to ROI. Muros specialises in decorative wall panels that create tactile and inviting ‘in shop’ environments.
The thin and lightweight wall decor offered by Muros is perfectly-suited to retail store design. Panels can be personalised to create unique wall art with natural designs that include concrete formwork, traditional stone, established brickworks, rustic wood and contemporary 3D styles. Installed quickly and seamlessly Muros adds an aesthetic that captures the retail brand essence and sets the scene/ backdrop to best showcase client’s sporting goods and clothing.
In coming months change in the retail sector will be aplenty. Expect to see prominent in-store health/ safety measures and policies, smaller and more intensive retail spaces and smart, dynamic store design to enhance customer engagement and boost sales. In addition, more accessible and interactive digital experiences for customers will be offered by progressive brands. It is all part of retail evolution – the future of the ‘retail shop’ will never diminish entirely.
CASE STUDY – Blackwell & Sons Cycles
Set in the picture-perfect village of Greytown, Blackwell & Sons have successfully captured a niche market with a tailored sensory experience and industrial workshop setting. Offering boutique cycle accessories/apparel and the exclusive authorised supplier of British manufactured Pashley cycles, it has been described glowingly as “one of the most beautiful cycle stores in the world”.
Its store design was therefore an instrumental element to create a customer experience like no other. Design was built around sophistication, quality and a solid reputation. The brief for Mackit Architecture was to create a feeling of defined spaces within an open area whilst paying homage to the original character of the 1880’s building. Another challenge for the architects was limitations placed on the heritage protected site.
Dusty aged brick, dark mahogany-look wood and brass/copper metals inspired the material selections with track and spot lighting highlighting merchandise. The Muros Burnt Red Loft Brick wall panel design was chosen to accentuate its true English origins and installed on a number of wall spaces throughout. The wall panel emulates authentic old England brickworks complete with nicks, chips, cracks and elements of natural wear and aging found in established brick walls.
Furthermore, rows of bricks in the veneer panel alternate between full bricks and half bricks, adding variation and originality. The result is a unique retail space setting the hand-built designer cycles and their experienced craftsman apart as a world class retail experience.
From an advertising background, the Blackwell owners’ story is based on the belief that the best businesses are those that offer us something we have an emotional response to. Less of what does this product or service does, more of how it makes us feel. Not surprising, Blackwell & Sons Cycles was a National Winner in the Commercial Interior category of the 2019 ADNZ Resene Architectural Design Awards. The Blackwell & Sons unique retail space creates just that emotional connection, drawing thousands in every year to its destination ‘gallery-style’ store.
CASE STUDY – Stirling Sports
Stirling Sports is an iconic NZ sports brand dating back to its first store opening in 1964. Muros has been proudly supplying textured wall panels for store fit-outs since 2013. Today we continue to contribute to the clean and edgy Stirling Sports 3.0 design concept by Ellery Design currently being introduced nationwide.
Stirling Sports has its discerning customers covered when it comes to all the latest sneakers, lifestyle apparel, training gear and accessories. Recognising where ‘fashion meets sport’, Stirling Sports ensures the newest looks from world-leading brands are constantly dropping in store and online.
To profile its on-trend sports clothing and accessories Stirling Sports is regularly seeking fresh and well-lit store design with good flow and space for its customers. Visiting Stirling Sports retail stores is a valued shopping experience for its customers as they connect with their favourite brands. It’s also an opportunity for Stirling Sports to build the brand as a destination for latest activewear and streetwear.
The Stirling Sports 3.0 concept takes customers to the ‘street’ – the place they will be wearing their Stirling Sports merchandise. Muros Grey Roughcast Concrete is a shuttered formwork concrete style. Installed at the store entrance it sets the tone – raw and contemporary. Step inside the store and the aged concrete panels combine with a broken plaster finish to add to genuine street appeal. Other Muros designs utilised by Stirling Sports store fit-outs include Muros Grey Polished Concrete and Muros White Loft Brick.
CASE STUDY – The Soccer Shop
Proudly New Zealand owned and operated, The Soccer Shop has been serving the community of NZ (teams, clubs, schools, organisations) since 2003 across regional Waikato/Bay of Plenty. Since then it has established itself as New Zealand’s Premier Football Store, launching New Zealand Football’s official global online store and becoming the national body’s official match day retail partner.
Passionate to the end about football The Soccer Shop sought to improve its retail presence and connection with local football customers. A smart refurbishment of their Mt Maunganui store in Bayfair Shopping Centre proceeded. Designed by Bubble Interiors to create a place for supporters, players, coaches, parents, referees to come together to share their love of the sport.
The resulting store design is a soccer-mad space complete with large scale field/turf images on the ceiling and an abundance of football kit lining the walls. Set over a warm inviting textured Muros Wall Panel that provides the perfect unassuming backdrop to showcase its offering – from official teamwear, boots, balls, accessories to training and supporter gear.
The Muros Terracotta Loft Brick wall panel was selected to replicate an authentic London brick street that you would see young kids kicking a football against. The aged red and orange faux brick finish with fine grey mist over-spray has natural aging and imperfections found in wall of established brickworks
Finally, Muros wishes all our clients in the retail sports space all the best in reopening doors to their brick and mortar store shortly and continuing to serve customers and brand build!