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2024 Retail Forecast: Three Wise Moves

VMSD discusses the latest trends and innovations for retailers moving into 2024

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STILL WORRIED THAT brick-and-mortar stores are losing their relevance? Don’t. When done right, real spaces remain the best way to connect with consumers.

It’s the “when done right” part of that sentence that’s the real challenge these days. In our omnichannel world, what are the best strategies for creating spaces that excite shoppers and bring them back for more?

Here are three trends worth watching (and trying out) in 2024.

Pop-Ups Roll On

Popular in recent years as quick, relatively inexpensive ways to boost a brand’s visibility and test the waters for new products and services, pop-ups remain a vibrant selling channel, especially for an increasing number of DTC (direct-to-consumer) retailers.

But so-called legacy brands are also jumping on the pop-up bandwagon. Sorel, founded in 1962, now sells its boots online and at stores such as Anthropologie, Neiman Marcus, REI and others. Last fall, it teamed with musician/actress Chloe Bailey to design a Caribou X Boot launched exclusively at a pop-up only open for 10 days in Brooklyn. That 950-square-foot space, designed by MG2 and The Lionesque Group (Seattle), played off the brand’s Caribou silhouette, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Saturated inside and out with the brand’s signature orange, the space’s interior walls also feature a collage of vintage ads combined with new campaign imagery to celebrate the breadth of the brand’s heritage. An augmented reality “Magic Mirror,” with branded filters and experiences at the store entry, invites consumers to fully immerse themselves in the brand story and interact in a unique way.

“The product features were a key inspiration,” says Melissa Gonzalez, MG2 Principal and The Lionesque Group founder, “and New York’s energy and characteristics was the muse.”

A further twist on the pop-up trend is one that rolls – literally. In Minneapolis, the Twin Cities chapter of the non-profit Dress for Success team acquired a new RV to help further its goal of empowering women by offering career counseling, networking opportunities and clothing services. Designers from Studio BV (Minneapolis) transformed the RV into a fashion boutique on wheels.

“The Success Express RV is designed to be uplifting and inspiring – utilizing a palette of soft blues, white oak and soft curvilinear geometry to convey beauty and softness to all that enter,” says Studio BV Founder and CEO Betsy Vohs. “The custom elements throughout the RV further elevate the experience, including three custom-painted art murals created on site by local mural artist Emily Quandahl.”

2024 Retail Forecast: Three Wise Moves

Making Room for EV Drivers at C-Stores and Elsewhere

As electric vehicles become more common, so does the presence of non-home charging stations at such places as convenience stores.

For example, Mercedes-Benz HPC North America LLC announced it would build charging hubs at 30 Buc-ee’s (Lake Jackson, Texas) travel centers, starting with about 30 by the end of 2024. As the fastest chargers take roughly 20-40 minutes to provide a “full tank” for such vehicles, that wait time offers c-stores a chance to give drivers a place to hang out by adding café-like spaces to their layouts – and this holds true for other types of retailers and restaurants.

Let’s Get Small (Department Stores/Grocery Stores)

While Macy’s (New York) found itself the target of a takeover offer in December that had not been resolved as the issue went to print, the department store retailer had made it clear several months earlier that smaller-format stores in strip malls would be its focus, unveiling plans to open 30 small-format stores in 2024. Similarly, in grocery stores, Meijer (Grand Rapids, Mich.) is slowly growing its small-scale neighborhood markets concept (its latest is to open in January in the Fairfax neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side). In both cases, the basic idea is to create compact but highly shoppable spaces via curated, locally focused merchandise selections.

Following any or all these strategies can boost a retailer’s chances of success, but they’re no guarantee. After all, the only certainty these days is uncertainty. (Want proof? Just Google what Artificial Intelligence may mean for retailers’ operations in the coming year.)

PHOTO GALLERY (42 IMAGES)
📷 Dress for Success | Sorel

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