With more customers returning to stores post vaccination, retailers in the US are finally heaving a huge sigh of relief. Retailers like Walmart and Macy’s are eagerly looking forward to customers’ return after over a year of them migrating to online shopping. One of the reasons for this eagerness is the low rate of returns amongst in-store shoppers as compared to online shoppers, says a Live Mint report. As per Forrester Research, only 8 per cent in-store shoppers are known to return their goods as compared to 25 per cent online shoppers. Also, in-store shopping is more impulsive, says NPD Group. A recent survey by the group revealed 25 per cent shoppers retorted to impulsive shopping while visiting stores as against 16 per cent online.
Share of department stores shrinks to 2 per cent
Yet, physical retailers are likely to face a lot of challenges while attracting shoppers back to stores. After a year of being confined to stores, customers have become more demanding. They are looking for better and convenient shopping experiences. Hence, store traffic has not yet fully recovered to 2019 levels; though it is slowly rebounding.
Data from foot-traffic analytics firm Placer.ai shows, customer visits to stores surged by 43.2 per cent during the week starting May 10 compared to the year-ago period. However, this was still 5.6 per cent less than the same period in 2019. Apparel shopping too surged by two times during the period, bit it was 11.2 per cent less than the period two years ago.
The share of department stores in the retail market has shrunk from 3 per cent in in 2019 to 2 per cent currently, shows data from the NPD Group survey. Against this, the share of discounters’ market has increased from 21 per cent in 2019 to 22 per cent this year. The share of online retail also increased from 23 per cent in 2019 to 26 per cent last year.
Retailers attract shoppers with new merchandize
Though the share of online shopping is expected to increase to 27 per cent in 2024, the rate of this increase is likely to slow down to 15.6 per cent this year and 10 per cent next year, says Forrester. However, physical shoppers are still not expected to visit stores due to the changed retail environment. For instance, beauty retailers are not allowing shoppers to try on makeup due to COVID restrictions.
To entice shoppers, retailers are adding fresh new merchandize to their stores. For instance, Target is opening a beauty section in over 100 of its stores by mid-2021 while Kohl's plans to open Sephora beauty shops in 200 of its locations. Retailers are thus ready to get back to business.