Directors and CEOs take note: The UK remains at the forefront of eco-developments in retail. The government’s well-advertised regulations on plastic straws and drinks stirrers have come into force, and have given rise to a booming side industry in reusable alternatives. Big names like John Lewis have reported on their customers’ increasing awareness of the environmental credentials of products, and show signs of meeting this challenge in a variety of ways. Take a look at how the fashion for environmental responsibility will impact retail over the next year:

Diversify your straw offering:

The government ban on plastic straws also extends to drink stirrers and cotton buds, and has seen food retailers offering eco-friendly, but largely unpopular alternatives. With paper straws and bamboo drink stirrers largely the choices on offer for customers, they have begun to look elsewhere. Large retail companies are quickly stepping into the space, and beginning to offer a variety of long-term products as a solution. Luxury metal straws are proving to be a particularly popular product, with retailers cashing in on customers’ enthusiasm for novelty eco-friendly designs and offering a variety of similar lines.

Capitalise on customer enthusiasm

With the ban on straws imminent, customers’ attention is still firmly focused on the environmental impact of their daily routine. Retailers are responding to this by offering a variety of sustainable travel mugs, lunch boxes and cutlery to help customers avoid single-use products when they are out and about. John Lewis reports that reusable water bottles are enjoying a particular vogue, with many customers buying multiple bottles for different daily activities.

Identifying options for customers:

Marks and Spencer have recently answered the increasing demand for vegan-friendly options with their easily identifiable ‘vegan’ logo, making it easier for customers to make environmentally conscious choices in retail. The system marks out both vegan food and fashion options, and has been publically praised by PETA.

Thinking sustainably

The increasing popularity of vegan alternatives, such as PU leather is also having an impact on sales, as customers become more aware of the position of leather as the most polluting material in retail. Other trends in the recent John Lewis report show customers investing in more luxury fabrics and spending more on expensive items, whilst updating their wardrobes less often. Retailers are looking to highlight and respond to the customer focus on environmental impact, and offer products which are clearly sustainable.