Life moves pretty fast these days. Lots of us are working long hours then coming home to deal with the kids or the hundred and one other things that need doing. We collapse into bed at the end of a busy day and wake up after a few hours’ sleep to start it all again. The way we shop has changed and it’s now one more chore to fit into our busy lives. Retail design has changed to reflect that as well. It’s become so frantic that I wonder whether retail design is now having an impact on our mental health.
Shopping has always been an essential household task, but it’s changed over the years. Back in the day a housewife would get out to go to the local grocer and have a chat with her friends to pass the time. If you went to a clothes shop it was quiet and calm. You could look round and make your choice in peace.
These days it’s racing around the supermarket trying not to bash anyone with your trolley or spending Saturday in a clothes shop that feels more like a disco. That’s if you go out at all. I know a lot of people prefer to save themselves a trip to the shops and do it all online. It feels as if you can’t get a calm shopping experience without isolating yourself as well.
When a shop feels frenetic and busy I think it’s bound to have an impact on our mental health. The last thing I want when I go shopping is extra stress. I’ve noticed it more since shops started using moving images in their retail design. I know it’s supposed to help make the atmosphere feel dynamic and lively, but sometimes you need the opposite. There are more moving images everywhere, particularly on social media. Apparently the average adult spends two hours a day on social media. In teenagers it’s an average of nine hours a day! We’re constantly bombarded by it.
When you walk into a shop and see a still photograph it allows you time to stop and look. Replace that image with a video and you feel that you have to keep moving.
Of course, these busy shopping environments don’t just affect our mental health as customers. At least we can leave and go somewhere else. Imagine working in retail and spending your entire day in an environment where nothing stands still. The idea that the customer is always right isn’t a new one, but it means something different now. What customers want has become more complex. The environment is so high pressure that we expect everything now. We get irritated in queues and the staff providing service become stressed and anxious trying to keep up. Everyone gets confrontational much more quickly when something goes wrong or we feel we’re not being served properly.
All of this is bound to have an impact on our mental health. We shop at a frenetic pace but are somehow isolated as well. A busy environment with moving images encourages us to be in and out quickly. We don’t slow down to enjoy the experience or talk to each other. I think that using stills in retail could help to calm things down and ease the stress.
If you’d like to know more about how you can use still images in your retail design, get in touch.