One of the recurrent themes at this year's conference was what the consumer wants as the retail sector emerges out of recession, writes Stewart Grant.
It's widely acknowledged now that retail in isolation is not the answer. Quality, not quantity of space is paramount as town centres and high streets are re-engineered for mixed -use development, with a strong sense of place and individual identity, reinforcing their particular characteristics and context.
Key to this is at last an acceptance that online shopping is not something to be feared, but embraced as part of the customer's overall shopping pattern.
Our physical retail environments will become more experiential, creating brand showcases that respond to our emotional and sensory needs, allowing us to touch, feel, smell, taste or interact before we purchase, whether it be in store or online.
It will be interesting to see the collective response from designers, retailers, developers and landlords.
Stewart Grant is partner at Pozzoni architectural practice in Altrincham. The British Council of Shopping Centres annual conference in London's Olympia finished on Thursday.