With the vacuum of human interaction the pandemic has created over the past two years, people’s desire to experience in-person events has increased. As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Compared to the pre-pandemic era when consumers prioritized convenience over leaving their homes and going to malls, we can now see the pendulum swing the other way. Let’s look at how consumer behavior has changed.
Return to physical stores
85% of consumers will shop more in-store in 2022 than last year, according to new research from ChaseDesign. This figure is up from the 79% of consumers who reported an increase in store visits in 2021.
There are many reasons for this return to physical stores, including the ability to browse and select products in person and to leverage the expertise of sales staff.
“After nearly two years of integrating e-commerce into their shopping habits, shoppers are demanding a new physical store experience that incorporates the digital benefits they are used to. This means creating a more convenient, rewarding and fun customer journey in the store. For brands, it is a matter of maintaining or even strengthening their e-commerce and omnichannel expertise in the context of their physical stores. It’s about presenting the right information to shoppers through the use of apps, QR codes, AR & VR and other digital technologies, so that the in-store shopping experience can be as dynamic and convenient than online experiences,” said Joe Lampertius, President. by ChaseDesign.
Increased demand for fashion
Additionally, there is a growing demand for fashion, with people returning to their offices, attending in-person events and starting to travel again.
“We see an ongoing appetite for luxury fashion; thus, women’s ready-to-wear, particularly dresses and accessories, were the best performing categories in the first quarter,” said Marc Metrick, CEO of Saks.
Macy’s has seen a shift in consumers returning to stores and towards special occasion clothing as well, such as women’s dresses and men’s tailored items. “As 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 women-owned and emerging brands, the company is focused on growing its physical stores.
“Our strong and productive off-mall store base can continually evolve with our customers’ expectations and demand, and we see substantial opportunities to leverage our real estate to produce long-term growth. Kohl’s began with its roots as a brick-and-mortar business, and those 60 years of experience have grown the company into a premier omnichannel retailer,” said Mark Griepentrog, Kohl’s Property Director.
With conveniences like self-service return depots, self-service checkouts and Sephora stores, the company caters to consumers’ ease of shopping while delivering great value.
The company released a statement that read, “Kohl’s is deeply committed to its business footprint and is evolving its approach to real estate to adapt to the changing industry landscape and customer needs. Over the next three years, Kohl’s will increase its investments in store strategies that will enhance the in-store experience for customers and associates, and over the next four years, approximately 100 new, smaller-format stores will open in markets hitherto untapped by Kohl’s physical presence. ”
Wayfair, the furniture and homeware e-commerce company, opened a new physical outlet for its All Modern brand this month. Located in Massachusetts, the store brings together digital and physical shopping experiences to provide consumers with a plethora of product options typically only available online, coupled with the ability to touch and experience the products.
The new Amazon Style store, which opened in the Los Angeles area at the Americana at Brand mall, is also focused on modernization, including through technology. The store offers an experience very similar to online shopping, but with the ability to physically touch and feel the products. Consumers can continue to shop on the Amazon app while browsing the store and scanning QR codes for items they want to try on, which can then be sent directly to a cloakroom or checkout.
“We make it more inspiring, personalized and practical for every customer. Those are our three goals,” said Simoina Vasen, Vice President of Amazon Style.
Clearly, creating new and engaging retail experiences is key to continually driving foot traffic to physical stores.