With the void of human interaction that the pandemic has brought on for the past two years, the desire for people to experience in-person events has increased. As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Compared to pre-pandemic times when consumers were prioritizing convenience over heading out of their homes and into shopping malls, we can now see the pendulum swing in the other direction. Let’s look at how consumer behavior has shifted.
Return to brick-and-mortar stores
85% of consumers will do more in-store shopping in 2022 than last year, according to new research from ChaseDesign. This figure is up from the 79% of consumers who reported increased in-store visits in 2021.
There are many reasons for this return to brick-and-mortar stores including the ability to peruse and select products in person and taking advantage of sales staff’s expertise.
“Following nearly two years of building e-commerce into their buying patterns, shoppers are demanding a new physical store experience that integrates the digital benefits they’ve gotten used to. This means creating a more convenient, rewarding, and fun customer journey through the store. For retailers, this means maintaining and even boosting their expertise in e-commerce and omnichannel in the context of their physical stores. It’s about having the right information presented to shoppers through the use of apps, QR codes, AR & VR, and other digital tech, so the in-store shopping experience can be as dynamic and convenient as online experiences,” said Joe Lampertius, president of ChaseDesign.
Increased demand for fashion
In addition, there is a rising demand for fashion with people heading back to their offices, attending in-person events, and starting to travel again.
“We see an ongoing appetite for luxury fashion; as such, women’s ready-to-wear, particularly dresses, and accessories were top-performing categories in the first quarter,” said Marc Metrick, CEO of Saks.
Macy’s saw a shift among consumers heading back into stores and toward clothing for special occasions as well, such as women’s dresses and tailored men’s items. “While macroeconomic pressures on consumer spending increased during the quarter, our customers continued to shop,” said Jeff Gennette, CEO of Macy’s.
Kohl’s is investing in its physical stores by modernizing. With a successful pilot of smaller store formats and new zones for female-owned and emerging brands, the company is focusing on the growth of it’s brick-and-mortar stores.
“Our strong and productive off-mall store base can continuously evolve with our customers’ expectation and demand, and we see substantial opportunities to leverage our real estate in producing long-term growth. Kohl’s began with roots as a brick-and-mortar company, and these 60 years of experience have set the company up to become a leading omnichannel retailer,” said Mark Griepentrog, chief property officer of Kohl’s.
With conveniences such as self-serve return drop-offs, self-checkouts, and Sephora shop-in-shops, the company is catering to consumer ease of shopping while offering great value.
The company issued a statement that said, “Kohl’s is deeply committed to its retail footprint and is evolving its real estate approach to match the changing industry landscape and customer needs. Over the next three years, Kohl’s will increase its investment in store strategies that will improve the store experience for customers and associates, and over the next four years, about 100 new, smaller format stores will open in markets previously untapped by Kohl’s physical presence.”
Wayfair, the furniture and home goods e-commerce company, opened a new physical retail location for its All Modern brand this month. Located in Massachusetts, the store brings digital and physical shopping experiences together to offer consumers a plethora of product options typically only available online, coupled with the ability to touch and experience products.
The new Amazon Style store, that opened in the Los Angeles area at the Americana at Brand shopping center, is also focused on modernization – namely through technology. The store offers an experience very similar to online shopping but with the ability to physically touch and feel products. Consumers can continue to shop on the Amazon app as they peruse the store and scan QR codes of the items they wish to try on, which can then be directly sent to a dressing room or cashier.
“We are making it more inspiring, personalized, and convenient for each customer. Those are our three goals,” said Simoina Vasen, vice president of Amazon Style.
It’s evident that creating new and engaging retail experiences is key to continually driving foot traffic into physical stores.