By Spencer Jordan | Vice President, Leasing
The retail landscape has been evolving for decades, but the past two years have accelerated consumer-driven trends and forced brands to adapt or lose relevance. As we enter 2022 with the pandemic still looming, Steiner’s leasing team has identified five strategic areas where our retail and restaurant partners are focusing their investments in the new year.
In an increasingly hybrid world, consumers are coming to expect a unified, seamless shopping experience across all devices and physical locations. According to Knexus, 15 years ago the average consumer typically used two touch-points when buying an item and only 7% regularly used more than four. Today consumers use an average of almost six touch-points with nearly 50% regularly using more than four.
This omnichannel approach reduces friction in the buyer’s journey, drives traffic to physical locations, and provides a more holistic view of a brand’s customers. Many brands at Easton currently offer this feature, including the first standalone Gilly Hicks store in the US.
Even before the pandemic, research showed that as many as 90% of consumers prefer the omnichannel experience. In 2022, retailers of all sizes will continue to invest significantly in this arena as consumer preferences shift towards blended shopping and the intelligence gained proves to be a valuable asset.
As brands invest in their omnichannel platforms, shopper preferences are illuminated at a hyper-localized scale. Recently, Easton was thrilled to open the first Nike Live in Ohio, with merchandise tailored to the local shopper using Nike Plus member data and online sales.
Offering data-driven inventory will be increasingly important in 2022 as brands push to tailor their in-store experiences to a wide array of unique markets.
Today’s consumers—especially younger shoppers—care more about retailer stances on sustainability, transparency and social issues than ever before. Successful brands are beginning to integrate environmentally friendly packaging, take strong positions on hot-button topics, pledge to reduce their carbon footprint and commit to a more just, equitable workplace at all levels of the organization.
At Easton, we are proud to work with B Corp-certified companies like The Body Shop and Athleta, and we hope to add more B Corp brands in 2022. With 81% of consumers expecting to buy more environmentally friendly products over the next five years, and 70% wanting to know what the brands they support are doing to address social issues, this is a trend that retailers can’t afford to ignore in 2022.
As limited travel has kept consumers home, brands are opening brick & mortar shops in secondary and tertiary markets. Expansion will be focused on open air and lifestyle centers. Contrarily, retailers with multiple stores in a market have begun to consolidate their fleet placing an emphasis on locations with energy and relevant co-tenancies. Downtown corridors and outdoor centers like Easton will benefit from this targeted growth and market consolidation.
Digital Natives Seek Land
Digital native retail brands will continue to open brick-and-mortar locations in a big way. Direct-to-consumer companies have recognized that a physical footprint can drastically reduce customer acquisition and logistical costs. With DTC retailers filing IPOs at a steady clip, physical stores are also a tangible way to show growth. In 2022, we look forward to welcoming another group of DNBs at Easton, joining UNTUCKit, Peloton, UpWest, and others.
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As retail undergoes a drastic transformation, commercial leasing teams must follow suit. Developers should aim to partner with brands that align with the social, environmental and digital standards important to today’s conscious, tech-savvy consumers.