The best store design and visual merchandising will still carry the day for those who are prepared to take time and invest in it.

A long, hot summer stretches away before us. We’ll head to the beach in our droves, eating, drinking and making merry as we do so. Oh yes, and a new wardrobe, a spot of DIY and a check-up on our eyesight will form part of the agenda. That’ll more or less do it. Every retailer will be happy, pigs will fly and motherhood and apple pie will be the order of the day.

None of this will happen, or at least next to nothing. Instead, it’s likely to be a summer of discontent to follow on from the winter that preceded it. Yet somehow in all of this there will be retailers that thrive. In the current climate that will be down in large measure to the fact that their stores look the part. That will be a reflection of both their fixtures and layout, a topic to which we turn in this edition of Retail Week Interiors, and the manner in which they manage to bring together the online and offline worlds.

The latter point is one that Morrison-owned mother and baby retailer Kiddicare is proving adept at managing - the latest store, in Enfield, was mobbed on opening day when we visited. Indeed, etailers that have jumped the fence to become bricks-and-mortar retailers look to be among the best at making sure that the various channels work in concert.

Not everything is about technology, however. Some of the best and most engaging in-store elements are to be found among those fashion retailers that have pretty much eschewed the online world, or large parts of it.

With this in mind we look at the way in which Japanese fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo has been working to take brands that have almost nothing to do with what it sells and harnesses their brand equity in order to create in-store interest. It sounds simple, but would you naturally have put a macaroon brand or a Fiat 500 together with a range of printed T-shirts?

Possibly not, and even if you did what would the chances of success look like? We may not be in a for a long, hot summer, but there is every chance that the best store design and visual merchandising will still carry the day for those who are prepared to take time and invest in it.

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