Last week I attended Revo's EVolution of retail meeting. It was an interesting morning filled with discussions about how the retail sector has fared over the course of this year and the benefits and challenges of adding electric vehicle ("EV") charging points to retail offerings.

My top 8 takeaways from the event are:

  • 2023 has been a turbulent year for retail, with the cost of living crisis and both climate and political events affecting the way we shop. Whilst there has been gradual improvement of consumer confidence levels, we are still sitting at pandemic levels.
  • Tolga Necar of CACI said that Net Zero is “no longer a campaign for the young”. Regardless of age group, the greatest concerns are rising costs and energy bills. This has meant that people are postponing large financial investments and cutting back on small luxuries. However, all generations are still concerned about making ethical choices when shopping (although some have more spending power to do something about it than others) and it is now baby boomers that are more likely to be taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Awareness of “Black Friday” is now fairly high but suspicion about how genuine deals are is also high. It was reported by Simple Politics that Which? have said that only 2% of the “offers” they have seen are actually the lowest price the goods have ever been. Only 1 in 5 is expected to shop in the Black Friday deals. 
  • Whilst consumers were reducing their Christmas spending last year, 46% do not expect the cost of living crisis to effect their Christmas spending this year. It is, therefore, expected that Christmas spending will remain at similar levels to last year rather than being further reduced.
  • Most age groups expect to do more Christmas shopping in store than online this year. People are looking for an experience, which online shopping cannot offer.
  • There are currently around 50,000 public EV charging points in the UK. If 2035 targets are to be achieved, we need between 250-650,000 charging points as 31% of EV drivers do not have the ability to charge from home. In order to achieve this, it will also be important to upgrade the electricity grid to ensure that supply can meet demand.
  • Destinations with EV charging facilities are perceived to be more environmentally friendly and more socially responsible, even by those who do not drive an EV. Research suggests that EV drivers will drive further to reach a destination and spend longer at and spend more money at that destination if it has a good EV charging facility. Retail offerings will, therefore, risk losing footfall if they don't have the right charging infrastructure in place.
  • The charging infrastructure needs to provide a good user experience. This includes good availability, ease of use, a safe and well lit environment and a charge time that matches dwell time. Faster charging is not always better. Some people will want a slow charge if they are planning their visit to take a number of hours.