The first glint of sunshine or glow of a daffodil and it seems our thoughts turn to ‘a bit of a spring clean’. With reports of charity shops receiving double the amount of donations they’d normally expect, it looks like a fit of ‘out with the old’ is gripping the UK.
Another symptom, and perhaps a cause, is the recent debut of Marie Kondo’s Netflix series. Kondo is more established in the US, but her mantra of decluttering and organising appears to be resonating here also – overthrowing some old notions around Brits’ obsession with tradition and horded nick-nacks.
Three factors seem to be driving this feeling that we’ve had ‘enough of stuff’.
1. NEED FOR CONTROL IN UNSETTLING TIMES
After a period of relative stability, low inflation and high employment, the age of austerity, arrival of Trump and never-ending saga of Brexit have made recent years feel turbulent and the future harder to predict.
It’s unsurprising therefore that people are taking refuge from this uncertainty by hunkering down at home – shutting the door on the world and relaxing in the place where they’re most able to enjoy order and calm. Decluttering is a potent way of taking control of your environment and, by extension, your life.
Whilst this response may sound promising for Home sector retailers, there are dangers attached. In this chaotic climate, shoppers crave stress-free logistics and can be less tolerant when stores fall short. Today it’s even more important that brands have great customer recovery strategies and are able to make people feel genuinely valued.
Shoppers are, even if unconsciously, seeking support beyond the merely functional. Yes, it’s vital to get the basics right, but a demonstration of true understanding, such as an apology at the right moment, can count for even more.
2. CURATING OUR OWN IDENTITY AND SPACE
The current housing market is, of course, a difficult landscape for the young. Saving up a deposit requires 10 years of living with Mum and Dad. The property ladder seems to have been pulled up by previous generations. This is spawning a desire to make the most of what personal space you have.
Clearing out the relics of your current reality and making a fresh, more optimistic environment is becoming more attractive. For retailers, fashions rooted in positivity and individual passions are likely to do well; especially if these allow young people to put a personal, perhaps unorthodox stamp on their rooms. Shut out of making the really big purchase of bricks and mortar, they are prepared to invest in quality – expressing themselves through handpicked specialness rather than generic clutter.
3. INFORMATION OVERLOAD MAKING MINDFULNESS KEY
It’s well documented that the snowstorm of information and social media we face is seeing a huge growth of interest in mindfulness. This most commonly takes the form of meditating, but increasing numbers are seeking to cut distractions from their lives by removing clutter from their homes. It sounds simplistic, but fans of this movement report how their sense of centredness and wellbeing grows with every bagful of unnecessary ‘stuff’ they jettison.
In the retail sphere we have observed consumers’ interest in offers and deals wain – not only because these don’t always deliver real savings, but also because they just encourage the accumulation of home-cluttering objects! Thus, brands with ever-present offers risk looking like part of the problem. Going forwards it’s likely that sales will have to be very high impact and tempting if they are not to be just screened out as ‘noise’.