If your a fan of the garish blue and yellow distinctive colours of Swedish big box retailer 'Ikea' and their unique shopping maze that for many can drive shopping relationships to distraction then hold onto your retail braces.

Ikea has bought a shopping centre in west London and is understood to be looking for more malls in the UK as it makes the most of bargain prices in the crisis-hit retail property market.

It seems they are also on the lookout for a number of other shopping mall locations that at what time was full of an eclectic mix of the US retail homogenization that started to invade our shores in the early 80's and has now left us all somewhat bewildered and bored.

As shopping centres from companies like 'Intu' continue to find the current retail climate as challenging as those retail High St's they were happy to disrupt, it seems that these days you can pick up a shopping mall for a knock down price.

And what about those forlorn empty department stores that are still sat in prime town centre locations creating more of a tumbleweed experience than a bad spaghetti western?

What about those major Supermarket chains who are already starting to feel the pinch from our European upstarts Aldi and Lidl?

Is this a way to bypass years of planning permissions for other big box retailers, acquire retail gold with all the required utilities pre-plumbed in.

Or, is it an opportunity in waiting for brave and bold councils to really get behind local commerce, which includes anything from artisan markets, local food and beverage producers, and a place to encourage and experience retail startup ideas including some of those clever digital companies who themselves are leading the way?

Mail order is a 100+ year old industry, and the basis of every eCommerce business is founded along the same principles that's known as 'distance shopping'.

Back in the day if we didn't shop via mail order we had little choice other than to go to a physical retail outlet to make that purchase, and we took for granted the experiential aspect of those visits. 

There was something tangible and comforting about breathing in the store environment, especially at Christmas, we could see other customers, hear what they were looking to buy, or listen to questions being posed to the store staff, and hear the excitement in children's voices at the thought of getting 'that present'. 

We tapped into all our senses and let's be honest it wasn't that bad.

For many people it was a full day out which might have included treats for the kids, or a lunch appointment with friends.

With the huge growth in eCommerce I think we've subconsciously become disconnected from the customer, every bit of evidence suggest that whilst brands obsess about getting us to the site and then to the checkout in a friction-less manner they've forgotten to 'listen'. Its all very 'functional', it's bland, it's solitary, and it's managed to isolate brand and customer.

As we've slowly forgotten to 'listen' I believe we have managed to disconnect ourselves from the social aspect of shopping that became so enjoyable back in the day. 

Listening is where we learn things that we might never have known, and social media is the place we can all go to to engage in conversations, create conversations, and learn how to listen. 

What do you think, nostalgic nonsense, or relatable?

Are Christmas markets just for Christmas?