Mary Portas says retailers must focus on the ‘kindness economy’

Retail expert and ‘Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas took to the stage at Spring Fair on Tuesday (4 February) to talk about the ‘kindness economy’ and why sustainability is the way forward for retail.

Talking to Ashley Armstrong, retail editor at The Times, Mary explained that retailers must adopt a kinder way of behaving, with the secret to being successful rooted in the relationships that retailers build with their customers.

Much of Mary’s messaging focused on being in tune with wider global and cultural changes.

“Today, everything revolves around being kinder to the planet, being anti-plastic, being sustainable,” she said. “These are massive issues and people are taking on the big corporations. People are changing the way that they consume. Consumers want to engage with the businesses that share their core values.”

Mary went on to explain that the biggest change ever was yet to come, saying that: “We are moving into sentience – respect and care. People can see that it’s wrong to use plastic carrier bags or to take their goods home in 10 bags from Primark.”

She continued: “We are all thinking seriously about how we live and what we buy which is good for the world as a whole. Therefore retailers have to look at what they are selling to make sure that they have that sensitivity around their products. I genuinely believe that a kinder of way of doing business – the anthesis of the ‘alpha’ culture – is the only way forward.”

“This is a very exciting time to be in business. The chasm has opened up and I see that as hope – better products, better service, better shops…. We don’t know all the answers yet, but ask questions, be open, be vulnerable, be transparent. Put a note up in your shop that tells your customers what your philosophy and your values are. They are not separate. Think ‘people, planet, profit’. It’s only our fear that limits us.”

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