“Malls and Shoppers Are Back In Droves” by Bob Phibbs via The Retail Doctor blog

“Malls and Shoppers Are Back In Droves” by Bob Phibbs via The Retail Doctor blog

Don’t look now, pundits, but those dire predictions of the collapse of malls are crumbling. I visited the Garden State Plaza in New Jersey Saturday around noon. It took me about ten minutes to find a parking place. Once inside, I found the mall packed with shoppers scurrying all throughout. Smiling, laughing, and most importantly, holding bags with their purchases. There was a line 30 people deep to get into Pandora. The Shake Shack was packed. There was no evidence of curbside or BOPIS like in previous months. The only way a time-traveler would know it wasn’t the Saturday before Christmas was the lack of decorations. That’s about it. I even made this LinkedIn live video I was so overwhelmed by the traffic. (Apologies for the wankiness of the video due to wifi.) That’s not to say retailers were dealing with it all equally. At Nordstrom: fully staffed, friendly help. A sincere desire to greet and meet like before. Several shirts and a new Canali jacket. Check. At Macy’s: though much better stocked than their location I visited in Albany a few weeks ago, there was a clear lack of help and desire to do so. Fitting rooms stacked with clothes, cardboard boxes of merchandise haphazardly left on the floor, and even shipping pallets (!). The employees stood behind their plexiglass giving the appearance of being forced to work in prison rather than being delighted they had work and people shopping with them. The only courtesy I saw was from the shoppers who were congenial and engaging each other. At Neiman Marcus: no one at all to be seen...
“What Pandemic? Physical Real Estate is Having a Moment” by Andrew Flint via Total Retail

“What Pandemic? Physical Real Estate is Having a Moment” by Andrew Flint via Total Retail

Credit: iStock.com by dragana991 Online shopping might be easy, convenient and prolific, yet it hasn’t erased the need for flagship brick-and-mortar retail establishments. In fact, retail real estate is undergoing a phenomenal — and some might say surprising — comeback. As REJournals reported, roughly 60 percent of businesses with physical retail assets plan to expand their footprints in 2022. What’s driving the momentum? Retail stores offer the personalization and community that virtual shopping lacks. Plus, those stores can serve as locations to test concepts, continue customer journeys, and forge deeper bonds with patrons. Even brands with wildly successful online presences are bumping up their in-person shops. Take Warby Parker, for instance. As CNBC reported in late 2021, the eyewear giant, known primarily as an e-commerce destination, brought in 40 percent of its revenue from retail locations in 2020. Physical stores were essential for providing customers with full-service experiences. This isn’t to suggest that online buying isn’t increasing. It is. Instead of usurping physical browsing and shopping, however, e-commerce is augmenting physical shopping and fostering the growth of omnichannel retail. Omnichannel retail has been around for a while, of course, but McKinsey research shows that the e-commerce element soared in 2020 amid the pandemic. And it’s true that physical retail took hits during mandatory shutdowns. Consumers opted to stay at home and order items for delivery. Developers had trouble getting construction permits. Property managers lost tenants as they forced retailers to reduce payroll. But now, brick-and-mortar is springing back to life, thanks in part to the benefits of omnichannel retail experiences. Case in point: In-person shopping allows brands to develop deeper relationships with consumers. Even if consumers begin their journeys online, they frequently jump from...