Retail Insights from Retail & Tech No 83

Retail news and trends to watch out for

  • Changing offers. US department-store group Macy’s is to expand its store-in-store concept Macy’s Backstage (pictured) in a bid to adapt to consumers’ changing shopping habits. Backstage features a constantly changing assortment of what the retailer calls on-trend, off-price products in fashion, beauty and homeware. Backstage covers between 11,000ft2 (1,022m2) and 16,000ft2 (1,486m2) of retail space and is located within already existing Macy’s full-line stores. It retails fashion, beauty, accessories, homeware and toys. The concept, which launched in 2015 and is in 300 stores, will roll out to 37 stores between April and June.


  • Shenzhen shopping. Shenzhen, China, is gearing up to become a major shopping hub. Last month, the city’s commerce bureau announced a string of initiatives to boost shopping and consumption including the opening of 200 new duty-free stores and measures to attract high-end brands. A new policy will see the city support domestic and foreign brands if they open shops there, and the introduction of grants to attract brands, including a reward of up to Rmb200,000 ($31,394). Each company eligible can receive up to Rmb5m ($784,855) in rewards each year.


  • US beauty boom. Beauty retailers in the US have seen a surge in footfall over the past few months, according to data from retail analytics company For example, Ulta Beauty has seen an uptick in visits since the easing of pandemic-related restrictions last summer. Store visits in December 2021 rose 16.1% compared to the same month in 2019, while visits in January 2022 rose 11.1% compared to January 2020 and increased 7.5% in February 2022 compared to the same month two years prior. Additionally, monthly average visits per venue were up every month since July 2021 compared to the same month two years prior (except for in September, the height of the Delta wave in the US). The retailer has also succeeded in cultivating shopper loyalty. Since the fourth quarter of 2018, loyal visitors to Ulta (defined as the share of Ulta visitors that visited the brand at least twice during the quarter) increased from 29.3% in the fourth quarter of 2018, to 30.2% in the fourth quarter of 2019, and to 30.6% in the fourth quarter of 2021. Meanwhile, Sephora has seen similar footfall trends. Four of Sephora’s top-performing stores in the US have seen year-over-two-year growth in visits every month since July 2021 to February 2022. Placer credits the performance to two trends: Attracting customers from further away and cross-shopping with Ulta. Placer says that cross-shopping with Ulta (meaning the share of Sephora customers who also shop at Ulta) shows that Ulta’s success does not necessarily come at Sephora’s expense.


  • Sustainable stores. Some 49% of US consumers believe that the responsibility for implementing sustainable practices should fall on corporations and retailers, as opposed to individuals or government regulators, according to a survey by retail solutions company Sensormatic Solutions. Meanwhile, 90% of respondents think that retailers do not do enough to showcase their sustainability efforts, while 33% do not trust the claims that brands make about their green products. Some 62% said that they would like to see retailers improve stores’ environmental performance and energy management by switching to sustainable packaging alternatives. Another 54% would like retailers to enhance inventory intelligence to avoid overstocks and wasted goods. Meanwhile, 53% said that they would use a brand or store less frequently if they discovered that it was not operating sustainably, while 18% said that they would stop shopping that brand or store altogether. Additionally, 70% of consumers are willing to pay at least 5% more for products that can demonstrate a fully sustainable supply chain. However, cost is still the most-cited barrier to sustainable shopping (55%), followed by consumers’ perception that the stores they frequent do not offer many sustainable options (47%).


  • Diptyque Korea. French brand Diptyque has opened a new store in South Korea. The 260m2 (2,800ft2) shop is also the brand’s largest store in the world. Located in the Garosugil district of Seoul, the store is inspired by a Parisian apartment and also features Korean architecture and artwork.