How Long Can Brick & Mortar Hang On?
13 September 2021
Author: Jasmine Waters
It’s the age-old question—is brick & mortar retail fit for purpose? During the course of the pandemic, it’s no surprise that global retail was hit the hardest. Eighteen months on, brands are moving past store closures to open new locations in prosperous consumer areas. Is brick & mortar bouncing back and how does it now need to function?
How is brick & mortar holding up?
From late August, US retail figures showed 5,000 new store opening plans, marking 50% more than the entirety of 2020. As online sales begin to slowly decline, many brands are reporting an increase in foot traffic from their brick & mortar stores. There’s no doubt that a wider retail recovery is well underway, but the question turns to whether industries can sustain the momentum. Consumers are more likely to have leftover disposable income to spend, meaning spending patterns are more likely to return to pre-COVID levels. The drive is particularly credited to pandemic digital spenders, who often check what they’d like online before entering a store for a different experience. It’s these wanted experiences that mean many businesses have re-aligned their strategies.
How does the experience need to change?
As new stores are being opened, many look to incorporate elements of e-commerce, from virtual styling to curbside pick-up. It’s cited as a new chapter for retail, as opening a store on its own now longer counts as enough. Experiences now need to be both compelling and convenient, having attachments to localised features or pick-up offers. Some brands have introduced an additional vintage marketplace to create an extra stream of brand ethos and narrative. Fixtures need to be planned and thought through—it’s no good to just open a store and hope for the best. In many cases, brands are finding that smaller premises are working in their favour. Full collections don’t need to be immediately available, but can be better showcased online. The intimate experience needs to remain the priority, along with convenient services.
With a revamped retail strategy and smaller premises, the final piece of the brick & mortar puzzle is deploying it in the correct geographical location. Thanks to COVID, consumers have flocked and congregated in certain areas, with data remaining important to determine trends and migration changes. Although this works in favour of avoid new rent increases, facts cannot be relied upon alone. When it comes to keeping brick & mortar adaptable, brands must ultimately use what’s working to do what feels right for them.
Photo source: https://www.pexels.com/@kseniachernaya