The age of web-based shopping has fueled brick-and-mortar openings.
November 14, 2016
NEW YORK CITY – Online shopping has changed the buying habits of Americans, but many online-only retailers are opening physical locations to further enhance the shopping experience, the New York Times reports. For example, last month, Amazon.com hinted that it might open convenience stores.
Both big and small companies online are finding that an actual store has allowed them to reach more customers and build their brands. In the United States, online sales will hit $394 billion in 2016, according to Forrester Research. That number is less than 12% of total retail sales, which Forrester Research predicts will reach $3.4 trillion this year.
However, online-influenced sales at brick-and-mortar stores (when a consumer looks online for a product but goes to a store for purchase) will generate an additional $1.3 trillion—around 38% of all retail sales. “Stores are still vitally important,” said Fiona Swerdlow, a vice president and research director at Forrester Research. “But the influence of digital touchpoints is huge.”
The Internet provided companies with an easier way to connect directly with consumers. “In a lot of categories, you’re seeing a significant shift from wholesale, as a percentage of their total revenue, to direct channels,” said Al Sambar, a managing partner at Kurt Salmon. Brands find that it’s easier to have a personal relationship with a customer online as well.
But what those companies are finding out now is that customers also want to visit a physical store. Traditional retailers like Saks are helping shoppers integrate their online experience with an in-person one, while online-only companies are branching out into actual stores. “We’re seeing this convergence where it’s the best of both worlds,” said Steven Barr, U.S. retail and consumer leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “It’s centered around extraordinary technology and extraordinary customer service.”
With a lower unemployment rate, moderate wage gains and cheap fuel and food prices, the pieces are falling into place for a more robust holiday shopping season.
Yet while the outlook is slightly more upbeat for retailers, a round of sales forecasts is calling for growth that’s roughly in line with last year.
Despite 2015’s results being held back by unseasonably warm temperatures — which forced retailers into taking aggressive price cuts — Deloitte predicts holiday spending will increase between 3.6 percent and 4 percent from November through January, to top $1 trillion. That’s roughly in line with last year’s results, when sales excluding motor vehicles, gasoline and restaurants rose 3.6 percent.
A separate prediction from Kantar Retail is calling for 3.8 percent growth in the fourth quarter, compared with a 3.4 percent gain in 2015. Its forecast excludes the same categories as Deloitte’s prediction.
Retail Next is calling for a more dramatic uptick from last November and December, when it says sales grew 1.3 percent by its measures. Still, it expects 2016 holiday growth to be roughly in line with the other two forecasts, at 3.2 percent.
“Folks are opening up their wallets a little bit,” said Rod Sides, who heads up Deloitte’s Retail & Distribution practice.
Indeed, consumers are loosening their purse strings. The personal saving rate was slightly lower in July than at the start of the year, falling to 5.7 percent from 6.2 percent, according to government data. Meanwhile, preliminary consumer confidence figures rose to 89.8 percent in September, up 2.6 percentage points from the prior year.
Yet an expected rise in health-care costs will likely weigh on consumers’ psyche, Sides said. That’s because Americans will be selecting their coverage plans for the upcoming year at the same time they’re doing their holiday budgeting.
Uncertainties surrounding the election are also seen keeping the lid on spending early in the season, though retailers are expected to make up for any lost spending once all the votes have been tallied. They could even see a lift from pent-up demand, Deloitte said. That would be just in time for the most critical shopping days, including Black Friday.
Thanks to a series of minimum wage hikes across the U.S., Sides predicts the low-income consumer will be in better shape to spend this holiday. But while the upper echelon of shoppers still has purchasing power, he said they will likely dedicate a larger share of their income to experiences over traditional goods. That trend has held back retail sales growth for more than a year.
Consumers’ addiction to discounts has likewise challenged retailers’ ability to grow the top line, as lower prices mean they have to sell more units to increase sales. Even though retailers’ inventory levels are more rational heading into this holiday season, Sides expects those with run-of-the-mill merchandise will be forced to continue down the path of excessive promotions.
“They can have a reasonable holiday season, but the price will be at [the expense of] margin,” he said. On the flip side, those retailers who can carve out a niche — or create a sense of scarcity for their merchandise — will win.
Companies who check off those boxes are off-price chains, where the merchandise is always changing, or small business players who are slowly stealing share from their larger competitors.
Online sales are once again expected to edge some 17 percent to 19 percent higher, reaching $96 billion to $98 billion, according to Deloitte. That growth rate is in line with last year’s figures, Sides said. Kantar Retail is calling for a similar 15.9 percent lift in fourth-quarter online sales, which would be a slight acceleration over last year’s 14.8 percent increase, by their methodology.
Retail Next predicts digital sales will rise 14.9 percent, compared with 12.6 percent in the final two months of last year. If realized, they would account for 16 percent of total retail sales in November and December, up from 14.4 percent in 2015, the firm said.
Retailers Expect Increase in Consumer Spending to Continue
WASHINGTON – With increases in consumer spending expected to remain solid during the remainder of the year, the National Retail Federation today said retail sales for 2016 are now expected to grow 3.4 percent over last year rather than the 3.1 percent forecast earlier. Online and other non-store sales, which are included in the overall figure, are expected to increase 7-10 percent year-over-year rather than the 6-9 percent forecast earlier.
“Economic indicators are showing positive trends for retail,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, citing the improved housing market, job growth, higher wages and other factors that have boosted consumer spending. “Challenges remain, with some greater than others depending on the retail category, but consumer confidence remains high and we believe that retail customers will continue the positive trends we have seen in the first two quarters of the year.”
Retail sales in the first half of 2016 performed at a solid pace, growing close to 4 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to NRF calculations, which exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants. NRF expects gross domestic product to grow between 1.9 and 2.4 percent.
“There are many factors that could prove to be hurdles but our overall outlook is optimistic,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Uncertainty surrounding the presidential election could make consumers more cautious, and the combination of a rising dollar and global slowdown have impacted exports, but other factors like favorable weather patterns that will help move winter merchandise support our outlook.”
NRF is watching economic developments closely and will evaluate any changes to its forecast as necessary. If needed, the next update to forecast will come as part of NRF’s annual holiday forecast in October.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation. nrf.com
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. & NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As the U.S. Hispanic population continues to grow in size and influence,Acosta, a leading full-service sales and marketing agency in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, and Univision Communications Inc. (UCI), the leading media company serving Hispanic America, have released the 5th Edition of The Why? Behind The Buy™ U.S. Hispanic Shopper Study. This new research explores the buying patterns and behaviors of these highly experiential shoppers and provides insights CPG brands and retailers can leverage to better appeal to and connect with this important shopper segment.
“Data clearly shows Hispanics are the driving force behind sales growth across many key grocery categories, but the bigger challenge is to look more intently at Hispanic shoppers’ path to purchase to identify their specific attitudes and behaviors,” said Marianne Quinlan-Sacksteder, Director of Insights, Acosta.
“At its roots, Hispanic culture is vibrant, engaging and community-centric, and we are seeing those same characteristics manifest themselves in the way U.S. Hispanics approach grocery shopping,” added Liz Sanderson, Vice President, Strategy and Insights, Univision Communications Inc. “For Hispanic shoppers, it’s about far more than bringing home food to feed the family — it’s an opportunity to spend time with loved ones while exploring and experiencing something new.”
The Why? Behind the Buy U.S. Hispanic Shopper Study, 5th Edition reveals:
Shopping is an enjoyable social experience for Hispanics. Hispanic shoppers enjoy grocery shopping significantly more than their U.S. counterparts, in part, because they consider the experience a social endeavor.
- 68 percent of Hispanic shoppers — and an even higher 7 in 10 Hispanic Millennials — say they enjoy grocery shopping versus 59 percent of total U.S. shoppers.
- While 39 percent of U.S. shoppers report shopping alone, 79 percent of Hispanic shoppers go grocery shopping with someone else, such as a spouse, child or friend. Eighty-eight percent of Hispanic Millennials do the same, making them the most likely of all the generations to go grocery shopping with companions.
- More Hispanic shoppers indicated they enjoyed shopping many of the departments found in the perimeter of the store, including the bakery, fresh meat, service deli counter, fresh produce and prepared foods sections.
Hispanic shoppers are highly engaged in store and digitally along the path to purchase. With a positive outlook, Hispanic shoppers are more interactive and take better advantage of opportunities to enhance their experience before, while and after grocery shopping.
- Hispanic shoppers are utilizing their stores’ special departments, services and areas more than total U.S. shoppers:
- 38 percent of U.S. Hispanic shoppers use the in-store cafeteria area for eating ready-to-go foods versus 27 percent of total U.S. shoppers.
- 34 percent use the coffee bar or in-store coffeehouse, a full 10 percent more than total U.S. shoppers.
- 22 percent participate in cooking demonstrations or lessons versus 16 percent of total U.S. shoppers.
- Significantly more Hispanic shoppers’ purchases are often impacted by in-store merchandising and promotions:
- 26 percent of U.S. Hispanic shoppers indicate that coupons available at the shelf impact their purchase decision versus 21 percent of total U.S. shoppers.
- 18 percent indicate that product tastings or demonstrations influence what they bought versus 11 percent of total U.S. shoppers.
- Hispanic shoppers are more engaged than U.S. shoppers with many digital tools — including social media — along the grocery path to purchase.
- 33 percent of U.S. Hispanic shoppers research a new grocery item online versus 22 percent of total U.S. shoppers.
- 35 percent of U.S. Hispanic shoppers read their grocery retailer’s digital circular versus 30 percent of total U.S. shoppers.
- 32 percent of U.S. Hispanic shoppers sign up for contests and sweepstakes after shopping versus 21 percent of total U.S. shoppers.
The Why? Behind The Buy U.S. Hispanic Shopper Study was produced in partnership with Univision Communications Inc. via Acosta’s proprietary Shopper F1rst™ survey in November-December 2015. To access the full report, visit www.acosta.com/hispanic-why. For more insights on Hispanic grocery shoppers, view the archived webinar.
This summer, vacation travelers are more likely to stop to use the bathroom than any other activity, including buying gas or food and drinks, according to results of a nationwide consumer survey conducted by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
Nearly three in four American drivers (72%) say that they stop to use the bathroom when driving on a vacation, compared to 68% who purchase gas and 66% who buy food or drinks. Female drivers are more likely than male drivers to stop to use the bathroom (77% vs. 66%).
Vacationers are also particular about the stores that they visit: 41% say that cleanliness and bathrooms influences their decision to visit a store, an increase from 36% who said so two years ago. Overall, the top two reasons that drivers say they select a place to stop are the gas price and the proximity to the area that they want to stop (48% for each). Quality food options was tied for third with bathrooms at 41%.
Nearly three in ten Americans (29%) say that they will take more time on vacation trips this summer and 86% of these vacationers say that they will travel by car. Vacationers are more likely to travel out of state (38%) than in state (26%).
Affordability is the primary reason the vast majority of vacationers plan to travel by car, cited by 59% of drivers. That’s up from 54% two summers ago, when gas prices averaged more than $3.60 per gallon. Two thirds of drivers in the Midwest (67%) cited affordability as a main reason to drive by car.
The ability to spend time with family was the second most-mentioned reason to travel by car, cited by 45% of Americans. However, there was a noticeable split by gender: while 51% of females say that car travel allows them to spend more time with family, only 39% of men say the same.
Wherever they’re headed, millions of Americans will be stopping and going inside convenience stores as part of their vacation. The top reasons that they will go inside a convenience store are to use the bathroom (70%), buy a drink (63%), buy a snack (57%) or buy a sandwich or other meal (26%). One in eight drivers (13%) say that they will not stop at a convenience store or gas station on their summer travels.
Overall, 17% of American drivers say that they are driving more because of low gas prices. Younger consumers ages 18 to 34 are most likely to say that gas prices allow then to drive more (29%) and older drivers ages 50 or more are least likely (6%).
“The classic long summer drive is evolving from stopping to take care of the car to stopping to take care of the travelers, whether that means using the bathroom or picking up food and drinks,” said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard. “Americans are seeking out stores that are more appealing inside with fresh food and an emphasis on cleanliness, and convenience stores are delivering, serving 160 million customers every day — and even more over the summer months.”
Overall, nearly nine in ten consumers (89%) say that low gas prices are good for the U.S. economy, down slightly from the 91% who indicated so in 2015.
Press release from nacsonline.com
The “experience” generation has spoken & it’s not what you would think. Online retail has long been forecasted as the ultimate decline of the traditional brick & mortar, but not so so fast. Even though millennials spend ample time on every internet device possible, when it comes to shopping, they want to see-feel-touch the products they’re buying. Very interesting read below from retailtoday.com:
Gen Z and Millennials are big on physical stores—even more so than their older counterparts.
That’s one of the findings of a new research study by insights firm iModerate in which 74% of all respondents said it is important for brands to have a physical location rather than solely selling online. Interestingly, 80% of Gen Zers and 82% of Millennials respondents said it is important, compared to 69% of Gen Xers and 65% of Boomers.
One of the biggest lures for in-store shopping is the assurance that comes from seeing, feeling and trying on merchandise, particularly items such as clothing, shoes and cosmetics, according to the study. This is especially true for first-time buying experiences.
“One of brick-and-mortar’s greatest advantages over other channels is that there’s an opportunity for shoppers to interact with products, and that gives them the confidence they need to make a purchase,” said iModerate CMO Adam Rossow. “Retailers can take even small steps to capitalize on these exploratory shopping habits, such as creating close-up experiences with new styles, providing samples and demos, and ensuring there are ample mirrors and fitting rooms.”
Big Box Stores: The study noted that while big-box chains are likely affected by e-commerce more than other types of stores because they sell commodity products, they still appeal to busy shoppers who want quick, one-stop-shopping.
iModerate identified three factors that can tip the scales in either direction for big-box shoppers, and lead to different perceptions of the same brand:
- Personnel – Big-box stores are often well staffed, but consumers complain that sales associates lack product knowledge.
- Convenience – Although they carry a wide array of products, consumers find inconsistency with selection, layout, maintenance and management within each store, causing them to spend more time shopping than they’d like.
- Layout – Larger stores with wider aisles allow for easier navigation, but these cavernous spaces can feel cluttered and dirty when not well maintained.
“When it comes to big-box stores, providing a consistent brand experience across every store is essential,” said Rossow. “Retailers should identify the locations that best uphold their brand promise, figure out what consumers love about them, and implement those best practices across all of their locations to the best of their ability.”
The study also revealed that each generation is looking to get something different from their store visits:
- Gen Z – Seeks the reassurance found through the sensorial. Stores like Forever 21 enable them to try on various sizes and styles that are difficult to perfect online, and brands such as Sephora offer samples and demos.
- Millennials – Seek efficiency and quality. Many are launching careers and have young families so they need to shop frequently, and favor big-box stores for their ability to quickly find everything they need in one place.
- Gen X – Seeks an escape and discoveries.
- Boomers – Seek comfort and space. They also value low music, light scents and seating.
iModerate conducted the survey with 844 consumers who ranged in age from 15 to over 65, and who shop in a store or online at least monthly.