Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

'Retail Renting' on the Rise, Report Says

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

'Retail Renting' on the Rise, Report Says

Article excerpt

At the mall store of the future, customers will show up to attend a meeting of a vintage clothing club, get discounts or other financial rewards for recycling their old clothes, pick out a party dress using a virtual-reality device and then rent it for the weekend.

Those are some of the trends retailers need to embrace to survive, according to a survey and report released Monday by mall developer Westfield Group. Westfield, the owner of North Jersey's largest mall, Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, as well as 33 other mall properties, is calling the report its first major study of "future retail."

The study, Westfield said, was intended to "identify transformational consumer trends that will shape future success for retailers," reflecting another aspect of the evolving sharing economy that has given rise to companies such as Uber and Airbnb.

"Retailers have to be brave and innovative, identifying what shoppers will want in the future by offering genuine value to create an experience that cannot exist online," said Myf Ryan, a director of marketing for Westfield.

The trends identified in the report are based on online surveys completed by more than 13,000 consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as in-person interviews with shoppers in stores, and interviews with retail and design experts.

The survey finding that could portend a seismic shift in mall retailing is the growing acceptance of "rental retail" -- renting clothes for short-term use and returning them. Fifteen percent of Americans said they were interested in renting clothes, electronics, furniture, or household goods from stores, and 23 percent of New Yorkers surveyed said they would spend $200 or more per month for unlimited clothing rentals.

Some online companies have already begun monthly "subscription" plans that allow various amounts of clothing rentals. The Rent the Runway website, which began by renting designer clothes and accessories for one-time wear, now offers an unlimited rental plan for a monthly fee. The Mr. Collection website offers clothing rentals for men.

The National Retail Federation's annual convention, held last month in New York City, featured Swedish entrepreneur Vigga Svensson,whose company, Vigga, offers rentals of baby clothes. …

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