In the age of the retail sound-bite, new words are being created on an almost daily basis to disguise run-of-the-mill shop interiors.

“It was a beautifully curated space in an iconic destination.” What does this say about the person who uttered these words?

Well, moving on, here are a few more words: insipid, lacking in imagination, uninformative and generally pointless.

All might readily be applied to the sentence in inverted commas. 

“Museums are curated, not shops”

John Ryan, stores editor

Now consider the fact that as well as terms and phrases that add nothing to an idea, in the age of the retail sound-bite, new words are being created on an almost daily basis. 

Top of the list currently must be ‘phygital’ (ahem doesn’t this sound uncomfortably close to genital), which apparently means the melding of the physical with the digital.

There are few ways to describe the sloth of backending one word into another and it does appear the trend is on the increase in retail circles.

So here are a few translations for some of the current retail buzz-terms.


Should you see the word “curated” in a retail context, feel free to understand: “We’ve put some stuff on the shelves and tables. We couldn’t get everything out, so some of our lines are still in the stockroom.”


Equally, when “iconic” appears, it just means a big store – nothing more, nothing less and the word can also be applied to anything from a Mars bar to the label on a can of soup. It’s reached the point where it means nothing.  

Many retail designers are fond of using words like these to disguise the fact that what they’ve come up with is little more than a run-of-the-mill shop interior – ‘post-rationalisation’ (another one to avoid) is the meat and two veg of many in the sector.

If, you decide to employ a design consultant, demand that they speak plain English.

And should this prove tricky, show ‘em the door – if they can’t communicate verbally without making a hash of things, then what chance when they are let loose upon your shop and asked to do the same thing visually?

This is a plea for common sense in 2015 therefore. It’s really not difficult to say what you mean and people will appreciate the clarity involved.

The other point that’s perhaps worth noting is that the majority of shoppers really aren’t that impressed by “curation” – they want what they want and perhaps you may tempt them to buy something else along the way by some artful display, but museums are curated, not shops. Rant ends.