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    Retailers ‘need to do more’ to champion sustainability

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    Sustainability is at the forefront of the retail sector, yet many have failed to act, with 63 per cent of sector decision-makers considering sustainability their least important priority, a recent report has stated.

    Consumers have highlighted their continued sustainable focus with a recent study from McKinsey & Company stating that 72 per cent of global consumers would spend more on sustainably packaged products.

    According to Harrison Retail, retailers must focus on championing sustainability in 2024 to appeal to their customers and do their bit in the battle against climate change.

    Daryl Bedford, Sales Director at Harrison Retail, said, “Retailers must set achievable goals and have the evidence to back up any claims to add a further level of credibility when driving for sustainability. Retailers can partner with organisations like B-Corp, which measures and evaluates the environmental and social impact of a company’s activities, to obtain official recognition of their progress against their targets.”

    Being transparent, setting realistic goals, making statements that can be substantiated and partnering with an evaluator are all ways retailers can help overcome doubts consumers may have about the authenticity of sustainability claims in retail.

    “Not every change needs to be a huge, headline-grabbing one”, added Bedford. “There are smaller steps that retailers of all sizes can take to embrace sustainability in a way that works for them. This includes tracking carbon emissions to identify hotspots, exploring ways to make supply chains more efficient, considering energy-efficient approaches, equipment and energy tariffs and switching to local suppliers. Retailers can also explore sustainable packaging alternatives to reduce or remove packaging entirely and offer a recycling or takeback scheme related to their products.

    “Communicating about sustainable achievements is a key part of responding to the growing consumer interest in sustainability. Some brands can face an uphill battle, particularly with sectors such as fast fashion regularly facing accusations of greenwashing, but authenticity and transparency can go a long way.

    “Achieving greater sustainability in the retail sector is going to take time. However, with rising demands from consumers and growing commitments from retailers, there has been a distinctive shift in attitudes within the last couple of years. Positive changes can now be seen at both individual company levels and across the wider industry, but retailers must ensure to continue on this path”, concluded Bedford.

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