BIG BOX CLOSURES CALLS FOR OUTSIDE THE BOX THINKING

Over the last few years we’ve heard about the Retail Apocalypse and the end of brick and mortar stores. With big names across North America shutting down shops, it’s easy to see that there’s a change in physical retail – but rather than putting a nail in the coffin of in-store shopping, retailers need to look at the benefits of real world consumer interactions and rethink their retail strategies to align with what people want, rather than just following a path of ‘that’s the way it’s always been.’
Now’s the time to break the mould and try something new! The same thing goes for landlords who have been housing mega tenants and now find themselves with a large number of vacancies. What can they do with these empty spaces? How can they generate and sustain revenue going forward? pop-up go takes a look at the current retail climate, and how brands and landlords can adapt to changing customer attitudes to not only survive, but to thrive…

Discount footwear retailer Payless has been the subject of frequent headlines as the most recent victim of mass store closures across the US and Canada. It joins the likes of American Apparel, CVS, Guess, J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Michael Kors, Sears and Toys"R"Us, all of whom struggled to keep doors open not only because of external factors, but also because of their own failure to keep up with evolving consumer needs – some reasons include:

The rise of ecommerce…

Players like Amazon are cleaning up in the retail world as online shopping continues to rise in popularity. The draw to filling virtual baskets can be attributed to convenience, ease of purchase, competitive pricing and a wider range of products. Brands that want to keep up need to understand the advantages of multichannel optimisation, whereby an offline store is only further enhanced by its online counterpart – and vice-versa.

Failing to maintain customer relationships…

Brands need to develop strong relationships with their customers or face losing them to the next best thing. To form these relationships, brands need to be reacting to their consumers in a way that is seen to be thought driven and thought provoking. This is often best done through real world, personal interactions and in-store shopping experiences which don’t need to focus solely on selling products.

Underestimating competitors…

The loyalty of consumers can be easily bought, and brands who are not looking at their competitors risk having their voice drowned out by them. Smart companies will evaluate the actions of their competitors only to ask, ‘How can we take this one step further?’ ‘How can we do this – but better?!’

Not listening to consumers…

What consumers want has changed. When baby boomers were in their high purchasing years, they wanted products that were: mass, commercial, generic and prestigious. Nowadays, however, brands need to focus on the Millennial and Gen Z spenders who want: locally-sourced, ethically made, environmentally friendly, artisanal, authentic and experiential.

Lack of imagination…

Experiential retail and new, innovative ways of reaching consumers are at the core of surviving the contemporary world of physical retail. If some brands had been brave enough to explore the realm of experiential retail, there may not have been so many shutters closing last year.

For landlords who are caught in the closure crossfire, pop-ups and temporary retail are a great way to maintain tenancy following a shut down. These events provide exciting opportunities for locations that will not only drive foot-traffic, but also attract potential long-term tenants.

SOURCES
https://www.forbes.com/sites/richardkestenbaum/2017/04/07/why-so-many-stores-are-closing-now/#58951ad44159
https://www.thebalancesmb.com/all-us-store-closings-2891888
http://www.rcinet.ca/en/2019/02/22/hard-times-for-retail-another-major-chain-closure-in-canada/
https://www.foxbusiness.com/retail/features-retail-apocalypse-bankruptcy-stores-closing

Tags: retail, specialty retail, real estate, Payless, Sears, Toys"r"Us, Macy's, J.C. Penney, ecommerce, Forbes, consumers