Towards Retail formats as spaces to closely interact with customers

Fiera Milano, Rho


Towards Retail formats as spaces to closely interact with customers

Alberto Miraglia, General Manager of Retail Institute Italy, tells us how the sector is evolving in light of new requirements and macroeconomic scenarios.

The pandemic has led to several changes in F&B purchasing habits. Which are proving to be long-lasting, and which are temporary and more crisis related? Which formats are coming out on top after the dramatic changes of the last two years? We asked Alberto Miraglia, General Manager of Retail Institute Italy, the leading association of the sector in Italy and TUTTOFOOD’s organisational partner for Retail Plaza, the format within the exhibition where the key players of large-scale retail come together with companies to network and analyse the latest trends.


Most notably, lockdowns saw strong progress in online sales, including in F&B. Channels today are rebalancing and the omnichannel concept is evolving. “The pandemic has charted new trajectories for Retail development, which can be summed up by the ‘Anytime, Everywhere Commerce’ concept” explains Miraglia. “Retail is becoming a space of interaction that allows for physical and digital proximity, emphasising the value of proximity to customers, wherever and whenever they prefer. The health crisis has undoubtedly favoured a sudden surge in e-commerce, which is estimated to further consolidate in 2022, but at the same time it affirmed the importance of local, ethical and responsible retail, which finds a new balance in the very concept of omnichannel.”


“The role of the physical store is evolving from a place of purchasing to a privileged space of relationships, of service, a key part of the consumer experience. Focusing on sustainability and innovation can be confirmed as keywords for 2022 as well. As the latest Coop Report shows, today climate change is central to Italians: 97% of respondents say they are willing to change at least some of their habits for sustainability.”


Increases in raw material prices and problems in global supply chains, however, are also being felt in F&B. What can we expect in Retail over the coming months? “At the moment we’re talking about inflation in the shopping trolley at 2.4%, with an average price increase of 3.9%, which is still contained by the promotional policies implemented by the various in the large-scale retail players,” concludes Miraglia. “But organisational issues in supply chains and increases in raw material prices caused by the ongoing pandemic will soon have an impact on consumer price increases. On one hand, this will lead to a contraction in consumption, while on the other hand, there will be a shift to other distribution channels in favour of discount stores, for which sales are expected to grow compared to 2019.”