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EHI Survey: Retail with Distance | Structural Change in the German Store Designer Scene


A new EHI survey of store design specialists at leading German retail companies has revealed that severe change can be expected in the store design scene. While companies who work mainly for retailers with fast-moving goods, such as supermarkets or drugstores, have not been suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, others are in a difficult situation. For some years store designers have found themselves in a very competitive environment. The coronavirus  pandemic is accelerating this immensely. “In a very fragmented store design market it will necessarily come to accelerated consolidation. There will be more big and powerful companies in the near future,” comments Claudia Horbert, EHI, Germany, who is in charge of the survey.


Turnaround Market
Some retailers will only make 50–70 percent of their normal investments. More than half (53 percent) of the persons responsible for store design for companies with fast-moving goods will have the same budgets at their disposal and 10 percent are preparing themselves for cutbacks.


The pandemic has also led to an acceleration of digitalization. Now that people are working from home, they are communicating mostly through digital channels. Fifty-seven percent of the companies have implemented new agile structures with virtual meetings or digital presentations and claim to communicate more effectively in real time with external partners and colleagues.


Hygiene and Safety
In the beginning of the pandemic many methods of protecting employees and customers from infection were not meant to be lasting. Now it is clear that plexiglass protections will stay at least until the end of 2021. and more appealing solutions will be considered. Seventy percent of retailers would prefer flexible solutions for protection, which can be removed when not needed any more.


Future of the Checkout
Although customers are now using cashless or mobile payment because of the pandemic and their acceptance of self-checkout systems has risen, German retailers still see the checkout as an important point for interacting with customers.


30 directors store design of leading retailer in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have been interviewed for this research. Together they generate a turnover of 101,5 billion euros (gros 2019) in 29.000 outlets. The interviews took place between july and November 2020. The study report is in German.


About EHI 
EHI is a research, training and consultancy institute for the retail industry and its partners. It has some 80 employees. The international EHI network encompasses some 800 member companies from the retail business and the consumer goods and capital goods industries. EHI was founded in 1951. President is Kurt Jox, the Managing Director is Michael Gerling. GS1 Germany, a joint subsidiary of EHI (50%) and Markenverband (the Brand Association, 50%), coordinates the assignment of Global Trading Item Number (GTIN, formerly EAN) in Germany. In cooperation with EHI, Messe Düsseldorf organises EuroShop, the world’s leading capital goods fair for the retail business, and EuroCIS, where the latest products, solutions and trends in IT and security technology are presented as well as C-star for the Asian retail market.

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