We attended the 2021 National Retail Recovery webinar to find out where industry experts see the retail sector going. From upcoming trends to reactions to the pandemic, here's what these panelists and speakers think of the state of retail today.
Panelists & Speakers
Something to keep in mind
"Flexibility is key"
The retail sector has been changing for the past several years as e-commerce becomes more popular; from department stores to grocery stores, the popularity of physical stores seems to be fading out. Those that were willing to adapt — to the rise of the internet, to the pandemic — are the ones thriving.
For example, some retailers are catering to the wants and needs of their consumers and of the times by using alternate methods such as online shopping and curb-side pickup.
Brick and mortar locations offer the appeal of an immersive experience. However, those that feel copied-and-pasted from other locations get boring pretty quickly.
This is especially true for malls. Malls are adapting by focusing less on the actual stores and more on dining & other attractions to offer shoppers a unique experience. Different restaurants and other attractions (an indoor amusement park, ice skating rink, etc.) are being used to incentivize shoppers to go with the hope that they stay long enough to actually shop around.
"Physical retail is imperative"
COVID further proved the resiliency of physical locations; they allow consumers to interact with others, appealing to human nature. Isolation in lockdown built a pent-up demand for the interaction element of physical retail.
Before the pandemic, restaurants were experiencing an all-time high as dining out rose in popularity. While grocery stores boomed during the pandemic (because restaurants closed), casual dining has recently increased to (almost) pre-pandemic levels. The demand for the full dining experience is largely due to this element of human interaction.
When gyms closed for the pandemic people turned to at-home workouts, even purchasing a variety of at-home equipment. When they reopened, loyal gym-goers were eager to be back; this might be attributed to marketing focused on consumer loyalty or (more likely) it might be attributed to the consumer's desire to be back in the real world.
While the barriers to entry in Commercial Real Estate are very high, especially for those starting out, physical locations have proven to be vital.
Online-only brands are not profitable over time. However, e-Commerce is more accessible and a good way to test the popularity of the brand before investing in a physical location. Some even opt for pop-up stores instead.
Location is VERY important, even within a single state, but density and availability are arguably the most important factors of a physical location.
Trends to look out for
Focus on the experience
Going to the mall is more than just about the shopping.
People can buy what they need online so malls have to offer shoppers an experience they cannot obtain virtually.
Having the same old stores gets boring — there is little to no variety between each mall; diversity of experiences is crucial to their survival.
Experience over convenience — the rise in restaurant-goers further shows the importance of experience, even at the expense of convenience.
While people are able to order take-out or Postmates (they did it while in lockdown), going to a restaurant provided a different experience that they craved. Plus, no dishes!
Check out more trends in the Commercial Real Estate industry with our blog page!