Health and Wellbeing in the Retail Environment

Photo: Marks & Spencer Cheshire Oaks

The World Green Building Council (WGBC) released a report on Monday regarding health, wellbeing and productivity within the retail environment. A number of retailers are looking at how they can improve the experience of employees and customers in their stores. The retail environment, for example the lighting, indoor air quality, thermal comfort etc., can impact employees perception of the work space with a direct impact on staff retention and sickness rates. Similarly, it can impact customer perceptions and therefore sales, footfall and customer loyalty. This report forms one of the first major outputs from the WGBC’s Better Places for People campaign.

There is emerging evidence that sustainable retail environments are becoming more attractive and profitable. Studies have found for every 1% of dwell time, there is a 1.3% increase in sales. Marks & Spencer aimed to enhance the customer experience through the design of their Cheshire Oaks store. They used hemp and lime for the external wall panels to reduce overnight heat loss to less than 1C, compared to 9C in other store environments. They also installed displacement air columns to deliver ‘free cool’ air to the sales floor, helping to achieve 42% lower energy consumption and 40% lower carbon emissions than a benchmark store. Natural lighting and day light sensitive lighting which automatically dims when possible also helped to reduce lighting electricity by 13% compared to a benchmark store. Employee satisfaction surveys found the environmentally conscious design of the store increased satisfaction levels by 22%.

Hopefully, this will be the start of more environmentally responsible, attractive and comfortable stores. But beware- the more you linger, the more likely you are to buy! Read here for tips on how to consume more consciously.

Please comment below if you know of any retailers that have reduced the environmental impact of their stores or improved them for the health and wellbeing of their customers and employees.


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