After a year and a half of unevenly applied US Covid-19 regulations as well as various city exoduses, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago’s retail scenes fare differently. While many hope for a return to store in 2021, retailers' fates rest somewhat on location. Here's our look into how the three cities are faring.
As store workers at many big-box retailers like Walmart, Target and Best Buy are now expected to deal with both online and in-store orders, retailers are increasingly thinking about creating new tech tools to help workers manage the growing list of tasks they're responsible for. Walmart, for example announced last week that it was creating a new mobile app called Me@Walmart. Through the app, store employees can manage their shifts and view their schedules, use a voice-activated personal assistant to answer common questions, such as where certain items are located throughout the store, and eventually, use the app to scan merchandise in the backroom.
Last month, the CDC announced the loosening of its mask guidance, saying people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus are not required to wear a mask “in any setting” unless local laws and regulations demanded it. Since then, retailers have been left to their own devices to come up with new mask guidelines for employees and customers. Modern Retail spoke to four people currently working in retail about how they feel about these new guidelines.
As the United States begins to reopen, small fashion startups navigate new consumer interest in dressing up, bright colors, and in-store experiences. The fashion industry struggled in the pandemic, with economic uncertainty slowing discretionary spending and leading to store closures. Small fashion brands, with limited assortments and nimble business teams, pivoted to e-commerce and comfort. Now, small fashion start-ups are offering bright colors, dressed up silhouettes and in-store experiences that consumers are flocking to.
Over the last few days, major retail businesses released a flurry of statements over the weekend updating to a no-mask-policy or doubling down on continued mask usage for customers and employees alike. However, most of these businesses didn’t address their plans to support their sales associates amongst the confusion, and some employees are concerned about enforcement, health, and safety moving forward.
Nordstrom, Amazon, Mall of America, TikTok, Walmart and hundreds of other brands are trying to popularize the medium to the United States. That has, in turn, giving rise to a new category of retail professional: livestream shopping host.
E-commerce brands are getting ready to test the waters of physical retail again. The increase in vaccinations over the spring has coincided with an uptick in pop-ups from e-commerce companies like Misfits Market and Cuts Clothing. The interest in pop-ups is being spurred by a combination of factors, including the fact that rent is still low in many places right now. But not all e-commerce companies are fully ready to commit to retail again.
Despite the record number of closures of brick and mortar stores over the past year, some retailers are finding an expansion opportunity. Several brands -- especially in booming categories like athleisure and discount stores -- are taking advantage of real estate deals to increase their footprint. Among them are Gap Inc., Lululemon and Dick's Sporting Goods.
The installment payment space is infiltrating local businesses. After a year of customers seeking the financing options from tech startups like Klarna and Affirm, buy now pay later startup Sunbit is hoping to ride that wave by attracting small merchants.
A year into the pandemic, digital and mobile have become retailer must haves. Warehouse clubs have typically been behind the times when it comes to those types of services. However, as the success of the Sam's Club shows, Walmart's investment in mobile shopping features has paid off for the subsidiary.
Target's long term plans to capitalize on its record sales year includes investing in its physical stores. In its fourth quarter earnings announcement, the big box retailer unveiled plans to spend $4 billion annually to modernize and automate its existing stores, along with opening new ones near college campuses and metro areas.
This week, Tonal announced a store-within-store partnership with Nordstrom to bring its workout machines to a national consumer base. The move shows that as the virtual fitness field deepens, so does competition for retail space and customers.
After years of focusing on growing within large cities like New York and Los Angeles, skincare startup shop Heyday is going the franchise route to expand. The company, which closed a $20 funding round this month, is hoping the addition of a virtual consultation platform will help it gain a bigger presence.
Companies like Walgreens and CVS have managed to keep revenue growing during the pandemic -- but they've also been hurt by falling sales of products in non-essential categories like beauty. Before the pandemic, these companies were trying to reinvent themselves as primary care destinations, by adding more spaces in store and online for health care products and services beyond just refilling prescriptions. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has only made that transformation more urgent.
Burger King is the latest quick service restaurant to announce it's launching a customer rewards program. This week, the fast food chain joins rival McDonald's in piloting a loyalty program that encourages repeat purchases and digital orders. Many of these businesses incurred increased losses during the coronavirus outbreak -- and they likely see new digital programming as a way to try and garner more customer engagement.
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