Shoppers Return to Stores, But Retailers Face Challenges | New


New York (AP) – Americans are returning to one of their favorite pastimes – in-store shopping.

With more people vaccinated and unmasked, retailers from Wal-Mart to Macy’s are excited about the stores more than a year after their customers went online during a pandemic. I returned.

Marcia Williams, who lived in suburban Philadelphia and was not particularly interested in shopping online until the height of COVID-19, returned to her local mall shortly after being fully immunized last month . It was his first time in over a year

Hairstylist and makeup artist Williams said, “I’m definitely out,” spending almost $ 1,000 on clothes for myself and my three kids on a few shopping sprees. I love to shop and it is my outlet.

The return to in-store shopping, highlighted in many recent retail revenue reports, offers a great deal of peace of mind. Forrester Research. And store customers tend to shop on impulse. For clothing, for example, 25% of purchases are made on a whim, while 16% are done online.

Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Advisor to NPD, said, “They need you to be in the store to drive more traffic. The crowd brings more people. (Buyers) buy more products.

Yet retailers, especially stores in malls and other specialty stores that struggled before the pandemic, face many challenges in bringing customers back. They face increasingly intense online competition and competition from the discount companies that thrived last year. Experts also say post-pandemic buyers will be even more difficult. After being forced to stay close to home, they will seek better and more convenient services and experiences.

Many retailers, such as Macy’s, are still recovering from the pandemic and were forced to temporarily close early last year, increasing traffic to large grocery stores licensed to operate. Overall store traffic is picking up, but is not yet back to where it was two years ago.

In the week starting May 10, the number of customers in the store increased 43.2% year-on-year, but was still down 5.6% from the same period in 2019, according to the Foot Placer traffic analysis company’s mobile device. Location data states. For .ai clothing, the number of customers more than doubled over the same period, but fell 11.2% over two years. For department stores like Target, the number of customers increased 5.3% over the same period, but fell 4.9% over two years.

Analysts are watching closely the market share of the devastated department store sector, which fell from 3% in 2019 to 2% last year and maintained that number for the first four months of the year, according to NPD. In contrast, the discounters’ market share has been stable at 21% since 2019 last year, but increased to 22% earlier this year. Overall, the market share of online retail has grown from 23% in 2019 to 26% last year.

The pandemic has accelerated the pace of online spending by about two years. Online shopping is expected to be 21% year-over-year, or $ 794 billion, in 2020 and to 27%, or $ 1.1 trillion, in 2023. However, online sales growth is slowing , forecasting 15.6% this year and 10% next year, up from 29.5% last year.

Williams, who has a makeup line called Embellish Beauty and has focused its online consulting business during the pandemic, said it would keep about 15% of its total online shopping, including soap and other products from first necessity. I go.

Yet physical purchases are not yet the same as before COVID-19. For example, retail beauty counters do not yet allow shoppers to try on makeup. Target said this year it will resume product sampling at stores where customers can return individually wrapped items.

Williams says he used to be served champagne when shopping at Tiffany’s. However, when she was in a luxury jewelry store earlier this month, she was unable to drink champagne due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“These are the experiences that I missed,” she said.

Still, store executives are optimistic – for now.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said last week that in-store transactions increased for the first time in a year. The target is sales from stores that have been open for at least one year in the three months leading up to May 1. 18% increase. This follows a 6.9% increase in the previous quarter.

This trend continued this week.

Best Buy previously said same-store sales could decline this year, but revised its forecast on Thursday, and those sales, which are important indicators of the health of retailers, said they are expected to rise 3% to 6. % in 2021.

CEO Collie Barry said in a conference call with industry analysts that retailers are seeing shoppers coming back “at all ages.”

Many retail executives say they are adding fresh new products to welcome shoppers. Target plans to open Alta Beauty Shops in more than 100 target stores by mid-2021. Kohl’s is set to open 200 Sephora Beauty Shops this fall. Macy’s also focuses on areas such as toys, health and wellness, animal care, food and wine.

“Obviously, our customers are ready to start their lives,” Macy’s CEO Jeff Jennet told analysts last week. “We see this as short term pop. Is not. “


About Timothy Cheatham

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