The High Street Can Reclaim The High Ground
Terry Smith, corporate account manager for Tarkett, looks at the options for flooring in retail:
OVER the last decade, internet shopping has grown significantly, with online sales of clothing and footwear rising by 21% in 2011. High street stores and shopping complexes must work harder than ever to attract and retain customers.
Creating welcoming and inspiring interiors will entice people in off the street. Every interior design element, from decor and lighting to displays and flooring, must deliver a retail experience the customer will enjoy and want to return to.
In any store, flooring accounts for much of the overall surface area and can be used to reflect a brand personality or the lifestyle choices of the target audience. It may have a subtle and supporting role providing an unobtrusive context for merchandise, or used to establish a distinctive, exclusive atmosphere.
Smaller retail stores and boutiques often view flooring as a long-term investment that will not be changed very often. As such they may opt for solid or engineered wood or laminate floorings that are generally easy to clean and, in the case of solid and engineered wood, may be re-sanded several times to give a ‘new’ floor finish.
But linoleum and vinyl solutions can also work well, particularly for those looking to create a vibrant and edgy interior design. There are a vast selection of bright colours and photographic images to choose from. Realistic natural effects, such as wood and stone, can also be used to give the impression of a real wood or ceramic floor but at a more economical price.
For larger outlets such as department stores and supermarkets, the flooring’s functional and aesthetic requirements var y throughout the store. Needs can be as diverse as hygienic, slip-resistant flooring for food sections to acoustic solutions for a public cafe or restaurant area. Safety flooring or a compact homogeneous vinyl are suitable options for fresh food and refrigerated areas. Luxury vinyl tiles, which can be more easily changed and updated whenever required, are ideal for main walkways and sales areas. The heavy duty properties of linoleum and vinyl also make these floorings good options here.
In busy stores, the flooring near entrances and in main circulation zones will be subjected to heavier daily foot traffic than some other areas, so the floors here need to be exceptionally hard-wearing. Resistance to scratches and scuffs is essential, as is ease of cleaning and maintenance to keep lifecycle costs to a minimum.
Refurbishing or replacing the floor can be an expensive exercise, particularly if the store has to close while works are carried out. The inclusion of PUR surface treatments on linoleum and vinyl can help to prolong the life of the flooring thereby reducing the frequency with which it has to be replaced. An added environmental benefit is the reduction in consumption of water, energy and detergents needed for cleaning.
Customers are more likely to make a purchase the longer they stay in the store so creating a welcoming, inspiring interior is vital. Utilising different types of flooring in various colours and patterns help choreograph customer movement around the store while encouraging further browsing and potentially lead to sales.
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.