Consumer confidence increases
Retail still saw customers as Joe Bloggs, and not as individuals with different needs. But over the next few decades, the retail sector changed almost beyond recognition. Between 1960 and 1990, average real income in Germany rose by a factor of 3.5 – meaning that German people also had more disposable income. At the same time, the number of different lifestyles developed so that there was soon a wide range of different types of consumer. Consumerism reached a peak in the 1980s: huge American-style shopping centres were designed and built to make shopping a positive experience instead of simply a chore. Brand products became more relevant as status symbols, such as in the fashion and automotive sectors. However, high unemployment levels during this period meant that not everyone could benefit from the new wealth of consumerism to the same extent. The market was separated into luxury and mass distribution.
New sales formats emerge
Retail has always had the capacity to adapt itself to social developments. Nowadays, for example, there is an ever-increasing range of private labels whose products are aimed at discount store customers. The constant shifts in social and consumer trends are also giving new impetus to the development and differentiation of new sales formats. Retail company concepts concentrate primarily on customer and service orientation. Modern supermarkets and large-scale hypermarkets (see the Supermarket and Hypermarket glossary entries) offer customers a huge range of foodstuffs, fresh produce and nonfood articles. There can be as many as 80,000 products on offer; and, alongside brand items, there are always private-label products in different price segments. As a result, consumers obtain all the products they require from day to day, and much more, from a single source.