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Retail brands ‘failing to deliver on in-store sustainability’

Retail brands are failing to address sustainability throughout the product lifecycle, despite 85% claiming that it is important, and 86% ranking it as an important factor to customers when making a purchase decision

That’s the result of a survey of 200 retail professionals by undertaken by international retail installation specialist 100% Group, which says that while sustainability-conscious brands place high importance on the raw materials used to create retail displays and packaging, they neglect the end-of-life outcome.

When it comes to in-store retail displays, the research (conducted by market research company Sapio) found that 61% of retail brands said that their displays are sustainable.

Yet while brands find that sustainability programmes come at a cost, incurring an average increase of 18%, the decision appears to pay off, producing an average 23% increase in sales from making displays more sustainable. 

The research suggests that the future of retail is green; 22% of retailers said they already have sustainability initiatives in place and a further 43% are planning to introduce them within a year. 

Retail display (72%), and packaging (61%) are the two areas where sustainability is taken into account most, but only 41% address it at product end-of-life, suggesting that brands and retailers are missing a circular sustainability policy.

This, says 100% Group, means that retail displays at best end up being recycled, while many are simply thrown away when they reach the end of their life rather than being re-used or redeployed to extend their lifecycle. 

Dan Williams, Founder and Managing Director of 100% Group said: “There appears to be a significant disconnect between the brands that claim to be sustainable and those that apply this in a full circle capacity. While it’s positive to see brands making sustainable choices on the products, packaging and displays themselves, it’s important to consider end-of-life arrangements upfront to ensure materials can be properly redeployed instead of sent straight to landfill.” 

Of the 69% of retail brands that say that their brand has an environmental sustainability policy, over half use recycling targets to manage it, while others focus on material reduction targets (45%) and energy consumption (41%).

Although brands appear to be making conscious efforts to improve sustainable practices, 100% Group says the figures suggest that green regulations don’t go far enough, with only 23% of respondents using these as guidelines to set targets.  

Unsurprisingly, brands believe that packaging is the most important area to demonstrate commitment to sustainability (67%) with branding and marketing falling at the bottom of the list.