There’s a quiet revolution underway that’s changing the face of retail in Britain. A decade ago, savvy shoppers kept their eyes peeled for a bargain, paving the way for the rise of discounters who rode the crest of a wave in the wake of the Credit Crunch. Fast forward to 2020 and the consumer mindset has radically shifted. Now, shoppers no longer make decisions based on price alone: ethics and sustainability have risen to the top of the agenda.
A report in industry title Retail Week laid bare the ramifications of the spending transformation: “Eco-conscious consumers vote with their wallets. Actions speak louder than words.” The magazine added: “Consumers no longer buy simply on price or brand name. There are a variety of macro-trends that influence how they live, feel, communicate and shop.” The editorial pointed out that where discounters locked in price wars had led the agenda for years, “diversity and sustainability” were the new battle lines. Retail experts pinpointed how younger consumers see through hollow messages and demand real action instead.
Environmentalism has been propelled into mainstream thinking by the likes of teenage activist Greta Thunberg who put the climate crisis on the world stage. A rise in activism, driven by growing occurrences of weather extremes such as wildfires and record-breaking heatwaves, is disrupting the traditional consumer marketplace, as shoppers become more aware of the effect of their actions on the planet.
A recent report by John Lewis, often regarded as the barometer of retail health, confirmed that environmentalism is no longer a niche but is now firmly embedded in UK retail. Consumers are making “small but significant changes in their lifestyles and routines,” said the retailer, which has forecasted that “looking after the environment is expected to remain at the forefront of shoppers’ minds in 2020”. John Lewis’s report is reinforced by its trading figures, which saw sales of steel straws soar by 1,573% ahead of the incoming ban on plastic straws, while sales of re-useable water bottles shot-up by 15% in the run-up to the Glastonbury music festival in 2019, which banned the sale of single-use plastic bottles on-site.
Eco-friendly innovation, however, is not limited to High Street retailers. Garden centres have long been at the forefront of stocking products that champion environmental preservation. This spring, the once traditional outdoor furniture category is set for a radical transformation. The arrival of DuraOcean®, the world’s first commercially viable mass-market outdoor chair made from nets, ropes and plastic waste recovered from the world’s oceans – is nothing short of a game-changer for the sector. With public concern over ocean plastic waste at an all-time high since Blue Planet II aired on the BBC, retailers can embrace the sales potential of DuraOcean®, reaping the benefits of a product that celebrates ‘closed-loop thinking’ by re-engineering former marine waste into one of the most desirable and fully recyclable outdoor furniture items on the market.
DuraOcean® has been brought to market by LifestyleGarden®, whose parent company ScanCom International has achieved a global reputation for ethical and sustainable business, underpinned by its motto of ‘Doing Business the Right Way’. With DuraOcean® having already been crowned Best New Product at the SOLEX exhibition in 2019, and LifestyleGarden®’s new 2020 ranges carrying Eden Project branding thanks to a new licensing partnership, DuraOcean® is just one of a host of innovative materials from LifestyleGarden® that are set to help retailers propel sustainability to the forefront of their outdoor living sales areas.
In focus: sustainable materials from LifestyleGarden® that can transform outdoor living sales
DuraOcean® may be dominating the headlines but LifestyleGarden® has introduced a plethora of materials that blend sustainability with the ultimate in style and performance. With consumers demanding an antidote to throwaway culture, Duraboard® holds the key to capturing sales from shoppers who are only prepared to invest in outdoor furniture that will remain in showroom condition without the need for maintenance.
Duraboard® is made to last a lifetime without any attention, providing perfect table tops that won’t scratch or crack, while resisting UV damage. Made from eucalyptus sawdust and synthetic wicker recycled from factories, this FSC-certified material is unique and has raised the bar for outdoor table tops. Stockists will no doubt have noticed the dual-layer coating for eucalyptus wood used in LifestyleGarden® furniture. Called Duragrain®, this special coating technology gives hardwood protection from the elements while enhancing the warm, natural grain of eucalyptus wood and leaving it with a uniquely coloured finish.
Duresin® is a stand-out formulation of 100% virgin polypropylene that hands retailers a tool to create instant wow factor in outdoor living showrooms. True to the ethos of LifestyleGarden®, Duresin® contains no harmful chemicals, while the material can be fully recycled, eliminating waste. Stockists should take note of Duranite®, LifestyleGarden®’s table top that’s renowned for its sleek, smooth finish. Significantly, Duranite® is ultra-tough – resistant to scratches and weathering, while tapping into the latest consumer trend for extending indoor fashion to outdoor entertaining areas.
Another winner in LifestyleGarden®’s armory is Petan®, a synthetic rattan fibre that is not only durable and weather-resistant but a wicker that displays a natural colour and feel, providing a further option for stockists to create a real point of difference in outdoor living displays. Petan® is made from raw polyethylene mixed with eco-friendly colour additives, resulting in a range that’s 100% recyclable.
Aluminium offers the latest in contemporary style and all LifestyleGarden® aluminium furniture is protected with Duracoat®. Not only does this multi-layer, oven-cured powder coating offer sophisticated appeal, but it provides a high-class finish that’s resistant to the worst that the British weather can throw at it. Cast aluminium in the Portals range is manufactured using die-casting technology, allowing for ergonomic design and the creation of unique shapes. The result is supremely weather-resistant and lightweight aluminium frames, protected by Duracoat®, to ensure that furniture stands the test of time.
Teak remains one of the world’s most desired species of wood. With its rich golden-brown hues and ability to resist the weather, teak’s rustic beauty ensures that this beautiful timber never goes out of fashion. LifestyleGarden® is proud to only use teak that is FSC-certified, meaning it’s grown in responsibly managed plantations – while teak is also sourced and recycled from structures on the island of Java, taking sustainability to a new level.
It’s easy for retailers to stage outdoor living sales areas that stand out from the crowd with LifestyleGarden®’s Rope, its newest premium-quality material made from olefin yarn, which combines strength with high performance. Handwoven by skilled craftsmen, rope holds the latest in contemporary appeal. Finally, LifestyleGarden®’s fabrics collection ticks all the boxes for stockists: excellent weather-resistance, durability in all climates, easily cleaned and with an appearance that resembles woven linen fabric – perfect for capturing add-on sales that generate additional revenue from furniture showrooms.