Holiday shopping is officially in full swing, and despite the ease of buying online, this year’s stats show that many of us still enjoy the in-person shopping experience.
In fact, according to ICSC, more than 60 percent of the adult population visited a shopping center over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday. And that number is way up over last year – definitely encouraging news for retailers.
Why are more people opting to do their holiday shopping in stores this year? Well, one reason is that retailers are becoming savvier at understanding what customers want. Convenience? Yes. Innovation? Absolutely! A really cool in-store experience? 100 percent! Here’s a closer look at some of the trends you’ll be seeing this holiday shopping season – and beyond.
Smartphone integrations: Sure, you can use your smartphone to buy stuff online, but where’s the fun in that? The good news is that retailers are well aware of how much we love our phones and they’re adopting an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude. Many stores are offering personalized real-time discounts that can be used while you’re shopping, along with QR codes that can be scanned for savings. Plus, all those loyalty cards that you have floating around in your wallet? Plenty of retailers have created apps that track your spending and give you easy access to your rewards points.
Pop-up shops: Everyone loves discovering something new, and that’s why pop-up shops have become so “pop”ular over the past few years. According to PopUp Republic, a marketing and management company that helps launch pop-up shops, the industry has grown to approximately $10 billion in sales. Some pop-up shops are well-known online retailers seeking to connect with a broader audience (think Casper Mattress) while others are small, locally owned businesses interested in testing the waters before committing to a long-term lease. Either way, pop-up shops seem to be here to stay, and that’s great news for retailers and shoppers alike.
Buy now, pick it up later: According to research, close to 70 percent of shoppers have used the “Buy Online Pick up In Store Option” in the past six months. Sometimes this means we sit in our cars and wait for someone to bring our goods out to us, which is super convenient. Other times, we’ll go into the store and find other things to buy, which is great for retailers. In fact, nearly half of all shoppers reported making unintended (aka impulse) purchases while picking up their items in the store.
Experiential retail: More retailers are looking for ways to give shoppers an experience they can’t wait to share with their friends (and bonus points if they do it on social media). The idea is to engage shoppers through each one of their senses. Want to find out how that raspberry lotion actually smells? Head to a Bath & Body Works. Need to know how the newest iPhone fits in your hand? The geniuses at the Apple Store are more than happy to help. Retailers are also experimenting with Augmented Reality and AI to tie together the brick-and-mortar shopping experience with cutting-edge technology – a very powerful combination indeed.
Next level “shopping centers:” Gone are the days when you went to the mall simply to purchase new clothing. Now, shopping centers are seeking to become true entertainment destinations. Case in point: the newly opened American Dream center in New Jersey. Not only can you buy stuff, you can also dine on world-class food, zip down a ski slope, and cool off in a water park. Expect to see more shopping centers embracing a diversity of tenants to attract a variety of people, even those who would rather have dental work than go to a mall.
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