Retailers nationwide plan to open more stores than they are closing this year, according to a survey from RetailSphere.


More than half of retailers surveyed by RetailSphere intend to expand their businesses and many are looking for spaces with a smaller footprint, under 2,500 square feet. Grocery, fast-casual, and value stores are leading the charge with more than half of companies in all three sectors saying they’ll expand this year. (Source: Commercial Observer)


As retailers plan for this year’s holiday season, preparing for a higher volume of store shoppers is top on the priority list. For some consumer categories, nothing can replace being able to see, touch and feel products first-hand. Add to that, store shopping can be mentally, socially, and physically stimulating and fun - important parts of the customer journey offered only by the in-store experience. So, with consumer surveys reporting early forecasts of BIG numbers in store traffic, what trends in retail can we expect to see?


1. Strategic, convenient, and efficient shopping “hubs.” It’s no news that some retailers are closing large footprint stores to make room for expansion of a higher volume of small footprint stores. This year we’re beginning to see the fruit of their reinvention, with strategically placed smaller versions of their larger big-box stores, and hubs of like-minded stores – all in sync with the needs of consumers. “Hubs” are showing up everywhere, and with them a “mini-compound” lmix of retail to meet the needs of the time-conscious shopper. Case in point, on my daily commute there’s a nearby new “hub” including a Target Express, a Chipotle, a dollar store and more – all sharing the same parking lot. This allows for efficient shopping trips in closer proximity to home.

2. Consumer comfort level in shopping. Consumer comfort with in-store shopping is at its highest level since summer 2021, before the emergence of the delta variant, with roughly 3 in 4 shoppers saying they are comfortable spending time in-store. (Source: Morning Consult- 2022 Weekly Survey of 2,200+ consumers) In fact, more than 85% of shoppers report feeling comfortable shopping at grocery stores, shopping malls, department stores, and local stores or boutiques. Market research reports are buzzing with a heightened comfort level in “going shopping.” Add to that, most consumers say that when it comes to holiday shopping, they prefer to shop at retail – for the discovery of tangible gift ideas, for the overall experience, and honestly, for the fun of it.

3. Enhanced in-store experiences and pop-ups. To take advantage of the resurgence in in-store shopping, brands are finding innovative ways to bring inventory to new locations through pop-ups. Bringing shoppers in is all about curating an alluring experience. Bonus points if the store optimizes the opportunity for capturing social content – take, for example, Casper set up nap pods for product experience and selfies; Sonos built listening rooms allowing shoppers to test their speakers in a home-like setting. On top of generating positive buzz, these brands gave customers in-depth aspirational experiences, while likely enticing them with a curated suite of products. (Source: Holiday Retail Forecast 2022)


To put a bow on what appears to be signs of coming holiday magic, consumers seem to be tackling any inflation hurdles by simply spreading out their buying, in essence creating a longer peak in the holiday shopping. Additionally, cutting back on staples and buying in bulk are just a few of the trends occurring now, to make room in the budget for the beloved holiday tradition of gift-giving. (Source: Wall Street Journal)


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