This paper reflects on research conducted on the role of interior designers in retail design within the South African retail sector. Based on three leading corporate retailers, the paper explores the contribution of interior designers to retail design in the South African clothing and footwear retail context. In 2008 these retail companies collectively held more than 50 per cent of a R96.2 billion retail market share.
Their primary turnover is generated through consumer purchases concluded in retail stores. The design of retail stores have become a means of marketing communication and are commonly used as a differentiation strategy by retailers. It is here that interior designers can make a considerable contribution to retailers.
This qualitative research study reflects on information obtained through open-ended interviews with the managers and senior managers involved in the design and implementation of retail stores for these leading clothing and footwear retailers. A qualitative content analysis method was employed to identify overlapping themes and categories to compare the role of interior designers in these three corporate retailers.
The research reveals that interior designers are currently under utilised due to a poor understanding of the role that interior designers can perform in retail design. Although the paper provides information on the approach and operation of retail design in the clothing and footwear sphere of retailing, wider application can be drawn to the role of interior designers in retail design in South Africa. The paper proposes that stakeholders such as education could make a valuable contribution in promoting interior design in all sectors within the South African economy.