Holiday retail season 2019: 3 trends we’re watching

For many retailers, the holiday season is the most important time of the year for their business, as shoppers descend upon their stores or websites, fill up shopping carts, and oftentimes, turn the company’s bottom line from red to black. As retail architects, we love to see our clients succeed, and this year, we’ve identified three trends retailers are using to attract shoppers and compete in the marketplace.

Convenience dominates

Convenience plays a major role in shoppers’ evaluation of their experiences.  While the desire for convenience is a large driver behind the growth of online shopping, brick and mortar retailers are working to make the in-store shopping experience more convenient to lure customers into their stores.  In 2018 alone, our team made design changes for hundreds of new and existing stores to accommodate for the growth of curbside and other online shopping pickup services.

While convenience is undoubtedly a long-term goal, retailers also are making additional efforts to enhance the convenience factor for the holiday season. To reduce the length of checkout lines, Walmart is stationing additional personnel in particularly busy parts of their stores who will offer mobile checkout services.  Shortly after making the announcement, Target advertised a similar plan for their holiday patrons. We have found that increased store signage and enhanced security measures to monitor goods optimizes this new protocol for retailers.

New partnerships

Retailers also formed partnerships to enhance services, product offerings, and ultimately increase foot traffic.  Kroger announced that they formed a partnership with Toys R Us, and they will dedicate space for toy sales in almost 600 stores.  Facebook is entering the retail industry, and they have created pop-up shops within nine existing Macy’s stores, selling products from digitally native brands and other small business that have found success through social media.

Increases in foot traffic and sales figures have led leadership from Kohl’s and Amazon to further expanded their partnership going into the holiday season. They continue to expand product return services and Smart Home product offerings in Kohl’s stores.

From our experience, permitting is sometimes key to these multi-tenant projects. When the project begins earlier in the calendar year with all stakeholders at the table (design, architect, subconsultants and GCs), it is more likely to be permitted and opened in time for the holiday season.

Holiday Pop Ups

With an abundance of retail lease space available nationwide, landlords have been willing to offer more short-term, economically-viable lease agreements. Pop-up shops, though in existence for years, have been seizing the opportunity to take advantage of low-risk lease agreements as they try to capture consumer spend.

These are just of few of the trends that we are seeing this holiday season.  What trends are you seeing among retailers?  Has the consumer’s experience become better or worse, do you think?

About Matt:
Matt has more than 20 years of experience in the architecture and construction industry, and is part of BRR’s business development team. Email him.

About Scott:
Scott helps lead a retail studio of more than 25 team members working on remodel projects throughout the country. Email him.